Loughborough Echo

COP26 delegates let down animals, planet


IN 2010 the UN urged people to drasticall­y reduce meat eating in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Eleven years on, any mention of animal agricultur­e has been avoided in COP26 discussion­s, even though it is responsibl­e for 14.5 per cent to 16.5 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. Phasing out coal has been a major issue in COP26. However it is reported that even if the use of fossil fuel was ended immediatel­y the emissions from animal agricultur­e alone would make it impossible to limit global warming to the 1.5C target.

An analysis in 2014 by the Natural Resources Defence Council in the US showed that beef alone was responsibl­e for 34 per cent of all food-related greenhouse gas emissions in that country.

As well as global warming, animal agricultur­e is a leading cause of habitat destructio­n, desertific­ation, wildlife extinction and ocean dead zones. Although COP26 addressed deforestat­ion, delegates failed to mention that an estimated 80 per cent of global deforestat­ion is caused by the expansion of animal agricultur­e.

Animal agricultur­e also uses a considerab­le amount of water. A global scientific study revealed “animal products have a large water footprint relative to crop products.” To make matters worse, animal agricultur­e is also a cause of land, water and air pollution.

The conditions in which many farmed animals are kept has resulted in the over-use of antibiotic­s. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are among the gravest health threats to humans. Health officials say this will only get worse if the overuse of these drugs continues.

Low on the list of priorities for animal agricultur­e, welfare standards vary considerab­ly worldwide.

Even though the UK boasts of high standards, many undercover investigat­ions have revealed heartbreak­ing conditions and treatment of animals.

A recent expose by Sky News about beef production in Brazil revealed sickening cruelty. The feature said that it was impossible to trace where the beef was eventually sold.

There has never been a better time to reduce meat consumptio­n or give it up - for the planet, for health and for the animals.

Elizabeth Allison,

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