The meat and dairy industries are on track to outpace fossil fuel and become the world’s biggest contributors to climate change, according to a new report from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and GRAIN.
The report shows that if meat and dairy companies do not make changes to their operations soon, these industries will be responsible for 80 percent of the allowable greenhouse gas budget by 2050. According to the report, the world’s top five meat and dairy corporations combined are already responsible for more emissions than top fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil or Shell.
The report was assembled with data from the world’s 35 largest meat and dairy companies, finding that only six had set hard targets to reduce pollution along their entire supply chains.
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“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,” Devlin Kuyek, a researcher at GRAIN, told The Independent.
This information is in line with a recent University of Oxford research review that found that eating a plant-based diet was “the single biggest way” to reduce one’s carbon footprint. The research review, published in the journal Science, showed that the meat and dairy industries currently produce 60 percent of all agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. In the U.S., the EPA reports, agriculture is currently responsible for 9 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, whereas fossil fuel represents between 78 and 91 percent, according to different estimates.
Research has shown that not only is the global food system contributing to climate change, but that climate change is likely to have detrimental effects on food. A 2016 report from the United Nations Environment Program found that some food crops, including wheat, maize, and barley, react to extreme weather conditions by creating chemical compounds that can make them toxic to humans.
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