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Concern with contributions of animal agriculture on greenhouse gas emissions

Local environmental conscious organisations have called on the leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference to urgently address the issue of animal agriculture. Picture: Carrie Antlfinger/AP

Local environmental conscious organisations have called on the leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference to urgently address the issue of animal agriculture. Picture: Carrie Antlfinger/AP

Published Nov 3, 2021

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Cape Town - Local environmental conscious organisations have called on the leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference to urgently address the issue of animal agriculture, the second-largest global emitter of CO2 with intensive livestock farming responsible for 14.5 to 16.5 percent of the world’s human-made greenhouse gas emissions.

Four Paws Animal Welfare Foundation chief executive Josef Pfabigan urged world leaders to acknowledge and tackle animal welfare and agriculture in their discussions.

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“Animal agriculture is the second-largest global emitter of CO2. Each year, 88 billion animals are raised and then slaughtered for food consumption.

“Intensive livestock farming is responsible for 14.5 to 16.5 percent of the world’s human-made greenhouse gas emissions, exceeding emission levels from global transport combined,” said Pfabigan.

Pfabigan said it was now or never for global leaders to come together and ensure the implementation of fundamental changes that were needed to confront the challenges of the climate emergency, with animal welfare and animal agriculture front and centre of the debate.

ProVeg SA director Donovan Will agreed that animal agriculture needed attention and said it’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced almost immediately by the public simply choosing to eat more plant-based food and products – individuals could reduce their total carbon footprints by up to half through this mitigation strategy.

“The easiest and fastest mitigation strategy, and one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions is not on the agenda at COP26. Governments around the world are failing to bring about the changes needed, and they are failing to even talk about one of the best mitigation strategies we have.

“Fortunately this mitigation strategy does not rely on governments; individuals can take control of their contribution to climate change every time they choose what to eat,” said Will.

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Provincial Department of Agriculture climate change and risk assessment expert Stephanie Midgely said there was a lot of attention globally on the role of animal agriculture in greenhouse gas emissions and, from a South African perspective, it was on the list.

But it fell into insignificance when considering where the majority of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions actually come from, such as coal and industrial processes, which combined attributes of up to 87% of emissions nationally.

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