Global Warming: Meat, Dairy Responsible for More Greenhouse Gases Than Big Oil

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A new report has laid bare the astonishing amount of greenhouse gasses emitted by the world’s largest meat and dairy companies.

Five of the globe's largest meat and dairy corporations (JBS, Tyson, Cargill, Dairy Farmers of America and Fonterra) contribute more to annual greenhouse emissions than major oil and gas corporations including ExxonMobil, Shell and BP, a new study by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and NGO Grain has revealed. 

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In addition, so-called ‘greenhouse-gas' emissions from the top 20 meat and dairy companies is greater than those of entire nations including Germany, Canada, Australia or the UK, it was reported.

"Unlike their counterparts in the energy sector, the big meat and dairy companies have thus far escaped public scrutiny of their contribution to climate change. The lack of public information on the magnitude of their greenhouse gas footprints is one contributing factor," the study, titled "Emissions impossible — How big meat and dairy are heating up the planet," states.

Out of the world's 35 largest beef, pork, poultry and dairy companies, only four companies NH Foods (Japan), Nestlé (Switzerland), FrieslandCampina (the Netherlands) and Danone (France) calculate credible emissions estimates according to the Huffington Post.

From a geographical vantage point, most animal-farming emissions stem from major meat and dairy exporting regions including the United States, Canada, the European Union, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. All of the regions combined contribute to 43 percent of total global emissions from meat and dairy production, even though they only hold 15 percent of the total global population.

"If energy, transport and other sectors successfully cut emissions in line with the Paris objectives while the meat and dairy companies continue to increase production, the livestock sector will account for a larger and larger portion of the world's available GHG emissions budget of 13 gigatons," the report states.

According to Shefali Sharma, director of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade policy (IATP), "cheap meat" does not exist. 

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"For decades, the mass production of meat and dairy has been enabled by farmers getting paid below the cost of production, workers being exploited and taxpayers footing the bill for air, land and water pollution caused by big meat and dairy," she noted.

"It's time we realized over-consumption is directly linked to the subsidies we provide the industry to continue deforestation, depleting our natural resources and creating a major public health hazard through antibiotic overuse. This report shows what a key role they play in creating climate change as well," she said.

The research concludes that if humanity is to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, it must greatly cut back on the production and consumption of meat and dairy products.

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