Can the planet support our voracious animal protein appetites?
A report published in July 2018 by GRAIN and by the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy (IATP) reveals that the five largest dairy and meat companies emit more greenhouse gases than the big names of petrol such as BP, Shell or even ExxonMobil.
A race for profit at the expense of the planet
Rare are the animal protein companies that have, among their objectives, the aim to reduce their gas pollution. In fact, the situation is even worse as the report shows that many did not report their GHG emissions data. Economic growth and the desire to always produce more has triumphed over ecological considerations. These last years have been marked by policies supporting the growing of dairy and meat companies. The report highlights another dangerous fact: while other polluting sectors, such as transport, are successfully reducing their GHG emissions data as the Paris Agreement reclaimed, if the giant animal protein companies do not change their policies “the livestock sector could eat up over 80% of the budget, making it virtually impossible to keep temperature from rising to dangerous levels past 1.5°C”.
One of the main arguments advanced by these industries is that it is necessary to produce more if we want to feed more. Is their solution effective and more respectful towards the environment? Or are we totally doomed and have to make a sacrifice either on a human scale or the planet?
Another way to produce and consume dairy and meat products
In fact, there are several solutions to prevent the production of dairy and meat being the main actors of climate change. The most obvious is to reduce consumption as well as production in the countries concerned. The production model also needs to change, with more local production methods with policies that will benefit small farms. The author of the report claims “These systems provide for moderate of meat and dairy, but they do so in a way that regenerates soils, provides livelihoods to rural and urban communities and makes crops and animals resilient to the vagaries of an unpredictable climate”.