Yves here. I’m not sure how to prevent a major industry like meat producers from having a seat at the table, but it’s not hard to support preventing undue influence. But where to draw the line?
But here the big concern is beef, which is extremely inefficient in food chain terms (as in how many pounds of grain it takes to produce a pound of beef, even before getting to the methane problem). Chicken, by contrast, has a vastly better grain input to quantity of edibles ratio.
Note that grass fed beef fans argue that it generates less methane and is better for the soil. From NPR:
Fourth-generation Oregon rancher Cory Carman runs a 5,000-acre grass-fed beef cattle operation, where grazing is key to restoring ecosystem balance. “Agricultural livestock are this incredible tool in promoting soil health,” she says. “The longer you can manage cattle on pasture range, the more they can contribute to ecosystem regeneration.”
Returning cattle and other ruminants to the land for their entire lives can result in multiple benefits, according to organizations like the Savory Institute, including restoring soil microbial diversity, and making the land more resilient to flooding and drought. It can boost the nutrient content and flavor of livestock and plants. And because grasses trap atmospheric carbon dioxide, the grass-fed system can also help fight climate change. But it does require more land to produce the same amount of meat.
But I’m not sure that better beef is good enough.
By Brett Wilkins. Originally published at Common Dreams
As the United Nations marked International Day for Biological Diversity on Monday, advocacy groups and activists underscored the devastating impact of animal agriculture on the Earth’s climate, while urging a leading U.N. panel to rebuff efforts by the meat and dairy industries to water down key processes and publications.
In recent letter to Hoesung Lee, who heads the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 98 groups and individuals noted how the IPCC in 2021 removed language from its Sixth Assessment Report underscoring the urgency of reducing meat consumption—especially in developed nations—and shifting to a plant-based diet as a crucial means of combating the climate emergency.
“The provision was reportedly heavily contested—and actively lobbied against—by the global meat industry via Brazil and
Argentina’s delegations,” the letter states. “Our organizations, representing millions of individuals who are concerned about the future of our planet, are deeply troubled by the potential influence of the meat industry’s years-long campaign of interference on any climate recommendations that include plant-based diets as a solution.”
Last week, RDP and 80+ allies sent a letter to the IPCC demanding that it boldly uplift climate science & defend the public interest — even & especially when it conflicts with the private interests of notorious super-polluters like the global meat industry https://t.co/HebhKYsxdS
— Revolving Door Project (@revolvingdoorDC) May 22, 2023
“We are writing to urge the IPCC to fully recognize the scientific evidence that shows the role of food and agriculture in driving the climate crisis and to ensure that future reports specifically highlight plant-based diets as a key climate strategy,” the letter states. “Furthermore, we encourage the IPCC to maintain its credibility by taking steps to ensure that Big Agriculture and the global meat industry have no influence over future reports.”
According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, animal agriculture produces 16.5% of global greenhouse emissions. On its own, the global livestock industry—which emits the methane equivalent of 3.1 gigatons of carbon dioxide annually—would be the world’s third-largest greenhouse polluter.
Nearly one-third of Earth’s ice-free land is currently used for livestock production. Beef production alone is responsible for more than 40% of the world’s tropical deforestation, while a single quarter-pound beef burger requires the equivalent of 460 gallons of water to produce.
— Zeke Hausfather (@hausfath) May 3, 2023
The letter continues:
Meat and dairy industry actors have long obfuscated the negative climate impacts of their practices while putting up roadblocks against healthy and necessary regulations. In fact, the industry’s tactics seem to be modeled on the fossil fuel playbook, using its tremendous lobbying power to pressure lawmakers to prevent regulations.
While the IPCC has historically managed to recommend plant-based diets, mention of plant-based diets was notably lacking from this year’s report. The scientific community and the public at large deserve to have the IPCC’s recommendations be unbiased, untainted, and undiluted by interference from industries that are financially incentivized to undermine science. The IPCC’s recommendations would be more powerful and more effective with the assurance that there was no interference [from] industry lobbyists and political actors who prioritize their industry over the common good.
The letter’s signatories recommend “avoiding meat and dairy products” as “the single-biggest way to reduce an individual’s environmental impact on the planet.”
According to the letter, if the world’s biggest meat-eaters limited their beef intake to 1.5 hamburgers per week, “they could
avoid about 5.5 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year—twice the annual emissions of India.”
It's the #InternationalBiodiversityDay!
Industrial agribusiness boosted by generous subsidies produces plenty of #meat. Meat production requires large areas & takes space from wild nature.
So let's eat less meat, and help to revive #biodiversity!#BiodiversityDay #forests #beef pic.twitter.com/5yKDzjyEds
— Seppo (@sepponet) May 22, 2023
Additionally, “if everyone in the U.S. ate no meat or cheese just one day a week, it would have the same environmental impact as taking 7.6 million cars off the road.”
“We urge you to take steps to prevent both any potential future interference by the meat and dairy industries, and the appearance of such interference, in a manner that could weaken these necessary recommendations around the urgent need to reduce meat consumption and production,” the letter concludes. “The world is counting on the IPCC to communicate the most accurate science and most effective solutions for the safekeeping of our planet’s future.”