Meat and dairy companies to surpass oil industry as world’s biggest polluters, report finds

'There’s no other choice. Meat and dairy production in the countries where the top 35 companies dominate must be significantly reduced'

Meat and dairy companies to surpass oil industry as world’s biggest polluters, report finds

Meat and dairy companies are on track to be the world’s biggest contributors to climate change, outpacing even the fossil fuel industry, according to a new report.

To arrive at this conclusion, non-profit organisations the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and GRAIN conducted an analysis of the planet’s 35 largest meat and dairy companies.

They found that broadly speaking the companies were being secretive about their emissions data and few had set hard targets intended to deal with their pollution.

If these industries continue down their current path, the authors of the report warned that the livestock sector could be responsible for 80 per cent of the allowable greenhouse gas budget by 2050.

“There’s no other choice. Meat and dairy production in the countries where the top 35 companies dominate must be significantly reduced,” said Devlin Kuyek, a researcher at GRAIN.

“These corporations are pushing for trade agreements that will increase exports and emissions, and they are undermining real climate solutions like agroecology that benefit farmers, workers and consumers."

When taken together, the world’s top five meat and dairy corporations are already responsible for more emissions than ExxonMobil, Shell or BP.

Meat and dairy consumption is concentrated in a small number of countries, and the top livestock companies mirror this trend.

China, the US, the EU, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand are collectively responsible for over 60 per cent of global meat and dairy emissions – about twice the rest of the world on a per capita basis.

As part of their analysis, the authors looked at efforts being taken to reduce emissions and found that only six had set targets that included their entire supply chain, despite this portion counting for up to 90 per cent of total emissions.

The report adds to a growing body of evidence for the harm meat and dairy consumption can cause to the planet.

A paper published in the journal Science in June found that if everyone stopped eating meat and dairy products, global farmland use could be reduced by three quarters.

This led the study’s lead author to describe a vegan diet as “the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth”.

The authors of the new report said this analysis was evidence of the far-reaching impact of the livestock industry and the need for food systems that meet the needs of farmers, consumers and the planet.

“It’s time we realised over-consumption is directly linked to the subsidies we provide the industry to continue deforesting, depleting our natural resources and creating a major public health hazard through antibiotic overuse,” said Shefali Sharma, director of IATP.

“This report shows what a key role they play in creating climate change as well.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in