EU takes radical position on livestock & climate change

04 December 2008

The European Parliament's temporary Committee on Climate Change has adopted important amendments that reinforce the need to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated by the livestock sector.

Globally, 18% of GHG emissions originate from livestock production. This is a greater proportion of GHG emissions than is produced by all forms of transport.

The Florenz report on climate change was discussed on Tuesday 2 December. The Committee introduced a number of helpful amendments that Compassion in World Farming lobbied for.

Adopting the report, the Committee:

  • recognises that the cultivation of cereals and soya as feed for livestock is responsible for substantial greenhouse gas emissions
  • encourages a switch from intensive livestock production to extensive sustainable systems
  • acknowledges that total meat consumption also needs to be reduced, especially in industrialised countries
  • calls for any feeding and breeding [climate change mitigation] measures in the livestock sector to be subject to an animal health and welfare impact assessment and for such measures not to be introduced if there are any adverse effects on the animals concerned
  • establishes that methane and nitrous oxide be included in the reduction targets for agriculture
  • stresses that a reduction in the production of meat and dairy products would decrease GHG emissions
  • sets down requirements for mandatory labelling regarding the production method of meat products as an aid to informed consumer decisions.

UK Climate Committee tackles meat consumption

A day before the EU vote, the UK government's advisory Climate Change Committee issued its own call for more action on climate change, including possible "changed consumer behaviour (e.g. eating less carbon intensive types of meat)."

Compassion in World Farming's position

Compassion in World Farming believes that the European Union and other high-income, developed countries should reduce production and consumption of meat and milk and choose only higher welfare products.

Compassion in World Farming calls for any forthcoming international treaty on climate change to include fair meat and dairy reduction targets for high-income countries, while allowing the poorer developing countries to enhance smaller-scale, welfare-friendly livestock farming.

Such a strategy would facilitate farmers moving to higher welfare systems, whilst providing important benefits for the environment and human health.

Read More

See our short report Global warning: Climate change and farm animal welfare for more information about the impacts of industrial animal agriculture on animals, people and the planet

Eat with Compassion

Higher welfare animal products cause less animal suffering. Buying free range or organic will encourage higher welfare farming which poses fewer risks to animals, people and the planet. Eating less meat and dairy reduces the environmental impact of animal farming and can improve human health

Download the Compassionate Shopping Guide


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