December 22, 2015
Let’s Cool Down Meat’s Heat!
The impact of meat consumption on climate proved to be the hottest topic that countries ignored at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris. While the Paris Agreement does not address emissions from farm animals, observers and negotiators filled the room for Humane Society International’s official side-event, 'Meat: the big omission from the talks on emissions'. The event was co-hosted by leading international organisations Chatham House and Brighter Green, and was chaired by internationally renowned sustainability scientist Johan Rockström.
Speaking at the event, German Member of the European Parliament Jo Leinen emphasised our inability to mitigate climate change without shifting away from meat-centric diets. His comments came hot on the heels of a report by Chatham House, ‘Changing Climate, Changing Diets: Pathways to Lower Meat Consumption’, which specifically addresses potential government interventions to encourage meat and dairy reduction, ranging from public awareness raising campaigns to a carbon tax.
Even Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed. The former California Governor, actor and body-builder made waves during the climate conference by calling on people to keep meat off their plates one or two days a week to address climate change.
Fortunately, this shift is gaining steam around the world; HSI presented on our global meat reduction campaigns, from Brazil to Mexico to China. Further, following our enormously successful Free Lunch event (one of the largest food events ever held outside the European Parliament in Brussels), HSI focused on policies needed in the European Union, one of the world’s biggest consumers of animal-based foods.
With an overarching call for an EU target of a 30 per cent reduction in the consumption of animal-based foods by 2030, there are a number of initiatives to help us get there, including:
- incorporating sustainable food consumption in the European Union and its Member States’ climate action plans,
- updating the European Commission’s Green Public Procurement guidelines, and
- developing guidelines on healthy and sustainable diets.
But that’s not all. Not only can we support the development and implementation of these policies, we can each help every time we sit down to eat. Humane Society International advocates compassionate eating — or the Three Rs: “reducing” or “replacing” consumption of animal products, and “refining” our diets by choosing products from sources that adhere to higher animal welfare standards.