Search icon

New food, farming & climate change report

News Section Icon Published 18/01/2010

Compassion welcomes the 'How low can we go?' report, published by WWF and the Food Climate Research Network (FCRN).

This expert report looks at the greenhouse gas emissions from food in the UK. Contrary to previous estimates, it puts these food-related emissions at 30% of the UK total, rather than 20%.

The obvious response to this figure is: "So what should we do about this?" With the government committed to an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the contribution of food to this target will be vital.

'How low can we go?' suggests that no single approach will achieve the necessary reduction. Rather, we need to source our energy in ways which will have a decarbonising effect, we need to improve agricultural productivity and reduce emissions, such as methane gas from cattle and we need to change our diet and stop wasting our food.

Compassion welcomes the report's strong recommendation to reduce overall meat consumption - a recommendation which is crucial to our own campaign to end factory farming by 2050.

However, switching from red to white meat (poultry) consumption as recommended in the report would almost certainly result in more intensive poultry farming, which would have significant welfare impacts. Fast growth in broiler chickens is a serious cause of welfare problems including lameness and heart disease in growing birds. Switching to white meat could also result in excessive use of grain which could be better used to feed people.

Moreover, we are concerned by the report's recommendations on increasing the productivity of animals and mitigating emissions of methane from ruminants, such as cattle, by changing their diets. Compassion is concerned about both of these recommendations because many farm animals have already been bred for higher productivity and yield with very adverse consequences on their health and welfare.

Additional production pressures would be likely to result in even more breakdowns in the health of farm animals. We believe that any climate change mitigation measures which concern farm animals should be screened for their health and welfare impacts on the animals themselves.

Joyce D'Silva, Director of Public Affairs, said: "Compassion believes this report is a timely contribution to the vital debate over the future of farming and food. It sits well alongside our own recent reports, Eating the Planet: Feeding and fuelling the world sustainably, fairly and humanely and Beyond Factory Farming: Sustainable Solutions for Animals, People and the Planet."

Read more

WWF and FCRN (2010): How low can we go? An assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from the UK food system and the scope for reduction by 2050


You are using an outdated browser which we do not support. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.

If you have any further questions regarding this, or any other matter, please get in touch with us at We aim to respond to all queries within two working days. However, due to the high volume of correspondence that we receive, it may occasionally take a little longer. Please do bear with us if this is the case. Alternatively, if your query is urgent, you can contact our Supporter Engagement Team on +44 (0)1483 521 953 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).