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G7 Nations sidestep urgent calls to address animal agriculture's role in climate change

World 25.06.2024
Source: grist.org
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Amidst the high-stakes discussions at the recent G7 summit and Bonn Climate Change Conference, global leaders largely skirted one of the most critical issues facing our planet: the profound impact of animal agriculture on climate change. Despite mounting scientific evidence linking livestock production to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation, conversations at these international forums predominantly focused on financial and geopolitical concerns.
G7 Nations sidestep urgent calls to address animal agriculture's role in climate change

The G7 summit, held in Italy, saw agreements on urgent matters such as reallocating frozen Russian assets to Ukraine and advocating for a Gaza ceasefire, alongside pledges to address migration challenges. Meanwhile, the Bonn Climate Change Conference grappled with persistent disputes over climate finance for developing nations, overshadowing broader discussions on sustainable food systems.

Stephanie Feldstein of the Center for Biological Diversity lamented the continued avoidance of the topic, emphasizing that animal agriculture's role as a leading emitter of greenhouse gases cannot be ignored. Despite representing only 17% of global caloric intake, animal agriculture utilizes 80% of agricultural land and 41% of global agricultural water use, significantly impacting biodiversity.

Recent international gatherings, including COP28, highlighted a growing acknowledgment of the need to integrate food systems into climate action plans. However, critics argue that efforts like the UN Food and Agricultural Organization's roadmap have fallen short by sidestepping the reduction of meat and dairy consumption as essential strategies to mitigate agricultural emissions.

Martin Frick from the World Food Programme highlighted the political sensitivity surrounding discussions on meat consumption in countries with high rates of consumption. He stressed the urgency of addressing these challenges through a systemic approach, warning that without substantial changes, climate action efforts will fall short.

While initiatives like Italy's Apulia Food Systems Initiative aim to bolster climate resilience in agriculture across Africa, they notably omit direct measures to decarbonize animal agriculture. Francesco Rampa of the European Centre for Development Policy Management clarified that the initiative prioritizes low-emission nations, sidestepping the substantial emissions from livestock in higher-income countries.

Looking ahead, the international community's commitment to incorporating food-related emissions into nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement will serve as a litmus test for genuine climate action. As countries prepare to submit updated NDCs by February, the inclusion of robust measures to curb agricultural emissions will be crucial.

Despite these incremental steps, critics remain skeptical about the international community's ability to meet the urgency of the climate crisis, echoing concerns that vital issues like food system sustainability continue to be sidelined in global forums.

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