COP27 delegates must stand up to factory farming in climate battle
Government heads attending the UN’s climate COP27 talks in Egypt are being urged by World Animal Protection to halt the building of new factory farms - one of the biggest threats to the planet’s ecosystems.
World Animal Protection’s recently released Climate Change and Cruelty report revealed the true extent of unsustainable deforestation caused by factory farming, with four trees felled to make way for animal feed crops to produce just 10kg of chicken, and five trees cut down for every 10kg of pork.
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.
As the Climate Change and Cruelty report exposes, factory farming in the world’s biggest economies discharge disproportionate emissions with a global impact, affecting countries and communities in underdeveloped areas like Africa – even though they do not contribute to the problem.
To address this injustice, governments should promote humane and sustainable food systems, including moving to higher welfare for farmed animals, promoting a reduction of meat consumption and an increase in protein-rich, plant-based diets.
Our report found a 50% reduction in consumption of both chicken and pork by 2040, along with a 50% adoption of higher welfare products would halve the annual climate impacts of chicken and pork production across the four factory farming hot spots - US, Europe, China and Brazil. This would be equivalent to taking 45 million cars off the road for a year in those regions combined.
World Animal Protection CEO, Steve McIvor said:
“As well as inflicting immense cruelty on animals, factory farming is starving the planet of a sustainable future. Instead of offering food security for millions as claimed by big business, factory farming is undermining it.
“As our report shows, we are witnessing an alarming decline of global biodiversity, spiralling carbon emissions, and public health crises from the pollution of water ways or contamination of the food chain because of factory farms.
“So it’s vital for governments to commit at COP27 to recognise and rein in this hitherto silent global warming culprit – because failure to do so will mean the Paris Climate Agreement emission targets to limit the planet to a 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature rise, will never be met.”
World Animal Protection and its partners are calling for a fast-track pathway towards a moratorium on factory farming to be mapped out at COP27 next month, including committing to:
- No new factory farms to be built for the next ten years whilst regulations catch-up to ensure that factory farming big business is held accountable for the damage it does to animals, people and our planet.
- Government guarantees an end to further habitat destruction for animal feed production
- Governments impose compulsory higher animal welfare in existing factory farms to prevent cruelty and ensure quality food.
- Governments redirect subsidies and policy support away from factory farming to humane and sustainable, and plant-based food. Public procurement policies should reflect this shift.
- Governments in countries with high per capita meat consumption commit to halve global animal protein production and consumption by 2040
World Animal Protection’s Head of Campaign for Food Systems, Jacqui Mills said:
“Though there is a welcome focus on food systems and finance at this year’s COP27 – we must not confuse factory farming with resilient food systems.
“It is inaccurate and misleading to argue nutrition security is built by herding animals indoors to guard livestock systems against increased frequency and severity of weather events – disastrous events caused in great part by factory farming.
“So we need to see real, bold action at COP27 from governments tasked by the world’s population to provide quality, nutritious and cruelty-free food that does not cost us all, literally, the earth.”
Note to editors:
Key Facts from the Climate Change and Cruelty report:
- The 4 biggest factory farming markets of the world are China, Brazil, US and Europe.
- 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 citizens 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.
- 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 - enough land for 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.