Politicians urged to address meat sector’s climate performance

Two powerful NGOs have called for a fundamental revolution of the meat industry to drive greater climate protection.

German NGOs BUND and Heinrich Böll Stiftung have published the latest version of  their meat atlas which analyses the world’s meat industry.

The study found global demand for meat remains on the increase and warns that no other food in its entire production chain has such a serious impact on climate change, on the loss of biodiversity, on water pollution and water quality.

It added:

  • Cheap meat production is causing billions of animals to suffer because of severe farming conditions.
  • Thousands of people are being displaced from their land for the cultivation of animal feed,
  • Workers in slaughterhouses are exploited and housed in inhumane conditions.
  • Industrial meat production is also a threat to global health, as evidenced by the intensive use of antibiotics and the Corona pandemic.

“We have been criticising all this for years,” added the report. “Facts and figures are available. Civil society and more and more scientists are pushing for a rapid and radical transformation – for a meat turn.”

However calls for action remain unheeded.

“There is no country in the world, nor is there a UN organisation that has and applies a comprehensive strategy to reduce meat consumption and production to a level that is safe for health and the environment,” it stated. “Around 325 million tonnes of meat are already produced worldwide. If not counteracted, it will be almost 360 million tonnes of meat in 2029.”

The report found per capita consumption of meat is very unevenly distributed regionally and socially: in countries such as the USA and Australia, it is 100 kg per capita, in Germany it is around 60 kg, in Africa only 17 kg per capita, with a slight upward trend. Asia is the big growth market – China now eats more than 50 kg per person per year.”

The meat production sector currently contributes 14 percent to climate-damaging gases, according to the report with more than 75 percent of the total agricultural land used for animal production.

“More than 60 percent of the world’s maize is eaten not by humans, but by animals, and by the number of oil seeds,” explained the report. “This category includes, for example, rapeseed and, above all, soya.”

“The fact that there is no counter-action against hunger for cheap meat is a fundamental political failure,” The two NGOs added. “Germany is the largest meat producer within the EU with 8.6 million tonnes per year and the EU is the second largest meat producer in the world with just under 50 million tonnes after China (80 million tonnes).

“Our government likes to pretend that Germany is at the forefront of the fight against the ecological crises of this world. The policy of our Ministry of Agriculture teaches us something better: the focus is not on climate- and biodiversity-friendly policies, but on the protection and service of old teams of the agricultural industry. There are no bold steps to rebuild in sight. This is not fit for the future.”

Barbara Unmüßig from the Heinrich Böll Stiftung explained: “The way the meat industry works, it cannot continue. If we are serious about the climate and biodiversity promises to the next generation, we urgently need a meat turnaround – an end to disastrous industrial meat production with all its consequences.

“Policymakers must now set the framework for a fundamental change in meat production and apply targeted strategies for a reduction in consumption by at least half. Politicians can and must support citizens in reducing their meat consumption while at the same time focusing production on better quality and animal welfare. Less and better must be the guiding idea.”

“In 2021, a major UN food summit will be held for the first time,” she added. “More than 690 million people worldwide are still starving– many of them living in the countryside. As a result of the Covid crisis, the UN estimates that there could be an additional 83 to 132 million more people. Industrial meat and feed production is exacerbating their living situation. Therefore, the year of the Food Summit should be the year to usher in an ambitious meat turnaround.”

The report found per capita consumption of meat is very unevenly distributed regionally and socially: in countries such as the USA and Australia, it is 100 kg per capita, in Germany it is around 60 kg, in Africa only 17 kg per capita, with a slight upward trend. Asia is the big growth market – China now eats more than 50 kg per person per year.

SHARE: