Deforestation in Brazil, aerial view of a large soy field eating into the tropical rainforest

EU fails to grasp COP27 opportunity to reduce damaging fertiliser use

Press release

World Animal Protection is calling on the EU to rethink its Communication on harmful fertiliser use at COP27 and commit to sustainable farming.

The EU’s proposed strategy outlined by Brussels last month and presented at COP27, aims to ensure the steady supply of fertilisers for farming among members states and developing countries.  

It also indicates more subsidies and dedicated provision of natural gas - crucial in the manufacturing of some fertilisers - will be made available.   

But World Animal Protection is warning EU delegates attending the UN climate talks the use of fertilisers to increase yields for animal feed helps enable industrial factory farming - a silent climate culprit.   

Much of the EU’s animal feed is imported, which alone leaves a damaging carbon footprint, and the current intent by Brussels to ensure a continuous supply of soya and other animal feed is propping up animal cruelty and the currently unsustainable farming systems.  


World Animal Protection’s External Affairs Manager, David Garrahy said:

“The EU should have grasped the opportunity at COP27 to make reductions in fertiliser use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from farming.  

“Along with the promotion of more sustainable diets and a move to plant-based proteins, the EU could have set a course for green food systems. Instead, we are seeing more of the same.” 
Globally, the price of fertilisers has increased sharply due to political instability, including war on the European continent and subsequent restrictions on imports.   

Added Garrahy: “This will see already cash-strapped developing countries pay more, while their environments denigrate. Meantime, the world’s largest fertiliser companies will have reason to thank the EU for its failure to meaningfully address fertiliser use at COP27 - because they are set to record bumper profits this year.” 


Climate Change and Cruelty

A high-level special report  commissioned by the United Nations warns efforts to curb greenhouse-gas emissions and the impacts of global warming will fall significantly short without drastic changes in global land use, agriculture and human diets. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) describes plant-based diets as a major opportunity for mitigating and adapting to climate change ― and includes a policy recommendation to reduce meat consumption. 

Urgently reducing fertiliser use, especially on animal feed crops, should therefore be a prime target for the EU.   

World Animal Protection’s recently released Climate Change and Cruelty report revealed the true extent of unsustainable factory farming. When deforestation to grow feed crops – especially soya - for global trade is considered, this doubles the overall climate change impact of factory farmed meat in EU member the Netherlands alone.  

World Animal Protection’s report details how factory farms not only inflict inhumane suffering on billions of animals - their intensive, cruel methods lead to the destruction of habitats and release climate changing emissions into the atmosphere, worsening heat waves, wildfires, floods and droughts, and undermining food nutrition and security. 


Some of the many environmental consequences of factory faming include: 

  • Methane from pig farming alone represent up to one-quarter of all pork meat emissions 
  • Fossil-fuel intensive pesticides and fertilisers are poured into animal feed crops, resulting in water and soil pollution, causing serious human health problems 
  • Massive amounts of animal manure contaminated with superbugs - because antibiotics are overused on farms to compensate for stressful and inhumane practices - are spread on fields, while manure storage generates methane, a greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere with damaging consequences. 
  • Energy-hungry processed animal feed is transported to factory farms around the world, using significant carbon-based energy, while factory farms demand large amounts of fossil-based power for heating, lighting and ventilation.  


World Animal Protection is holding events at COP27:  

  • On Friday 11th November, 16.45-17.30 (Egypt time) at the Food4Climate Pavilion, Global Programme Director Kelly Dent will explain the true impact of factory industrial farming.  

  • On Monday 14th November, 18.30 (Egypt time) at Akhenaten, Zone B, Side Event Building 1,  World Animal Protection will present transitioning agriculture systems for sustainability and climate resilience. This will include an account from Naira Hofmeister, a journalist with Reporter Brazil who partnered with World Animal Protection to uncover the evidence linking JBS to several instances of recent animal feed related deforestation. 


Note to editors:   


Facts from the Climate Change and Cruelty Report:   

  • The 4 biggest factory farming markets of the world are China, Brazil, US and Europe.  
  • Meat consumption rates in 2020 for the four-factory farming hot spots are already high. Europeans consume around 33kg of pork per person per year and 23kg of chicken. Brazilians eat 41kg of chicken and 12kg of pork each year, US people eat 23kg of pork and 50kg of chicken and in China, pork is the most consumed meat, with 26kg per person and 14kg of chicken.  
  •  The climate impacts of factory farmed chicken alone in these factories farming hot spots is the equivalent of driving almost 29 million cars for a year.    
  • Animal feed production is the dominant contributor to factory farming’s climate impact.     
  • A million kilograms of factory farmed chicken need almost 4.3 million square metres of land dedicated to animal feed, while a million kilograms of factory farmed pork needs around 5.8 million square metres of land dedicated to animal feed. That’s around the size of 672-906 football fields which is an area that can accommodate up to 1.45 million trees.  
  • For every 100 calories of crops fed to farmed animals, only 17-30 calories end up feeding people2. Meat and dairy provide only 18% of overall calories and 37% of protein for humans, but they use 83% of farmland3. It is far better to grow crops that feed humans directly through mostly plant-based diets.     
  • Methane from the manure of factory farmed pigs accounts for 21% of overall pork emissions for Netherlands, 22% for US, and 24% for Brazil.  
  • By 2040, China’s per person annual consumption of chicken is expected to have increased from current levels to 15kg and pork to 31kg. Increases in chicken consumption are also expected in Brazil, US and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)4 countries at 43kg, 53kg and 25kg respectively. For pork, consumption may reach 13kg for Brazil, 24kg for the US and 32kg for OECD countries.  
  • Increases in pork and chicken consumption will result in notable increases in climate and environmental impacts.  
  • Conversely, reducing pork per person by 50% by 2040 would result in a 41% decrease in climate change impacts from pork consumption in China, 54% for the EU, 44% for Brazil and 43% for the US13.  

The EU could have set a course for green food systems. Instead, we are seeing more of the same