Meat Companies and Lobbying Groups Plan to Present Meat as ‘Sustainable Nutrition’ at COP28, Documents Reveal
Big meat companies and lobbyists for the industry have plans to be out in full force at the COP28 climate conference, bringing with them a message of meat as “sustainable nutrition,” documents from the Global Meat Alliance (GMA) reveal, according to a press release from DeSmog.
The GMA documents disclose that JBS, the biggest meat company in the world, will be joined by other major industry members like the North American Meat Institute and the Global Dairy Platform to push their pro-meat message at the climate summit in Dubai.
“These companies are stepping up their game because the exposure they are facing is stepping up,” said Jennifer Jacquet, a University of Miami environmental science and policy professor, in the press release. “It used to be that they were caught on the back foot, but now they’re completely prepared.”
Farming will be a big feature at COP28, with a “food and agriculture” agenda pressing governments to work with industry to come up with solutions to food insecurity exacerbated by climate change, the press release said.
GMA members are urged to promote the idea that meat will help “feed the world” and that it is good for the environment.
It has been estimated that the planet’s three largest meat companies produce more emissions than the BP and Shell oil companies, and that the 3.4 percent of emissions that come from the dairy industry is more than that of aviation.
According to DeSmog, trade groups will also “push” for “positive livestock content” by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) at the climate conference. Recently, industry pressure resulted in censorship of reports by FAO on the contribution of livestock to greenhouse gas emissions.
“Any credible action to reduce emissions in the food sector will inevitably lead to a reduction in the total volume of meat and dairy products produced,” said Nusa Urbancic, CEO of the nonprofit Changing Markets Foundation, as reported by The Guardian. “The industry is terrified of that and has been deploying multiple tactics to delay the inevitable.”
Raising animals for human consumption is the world’s biggest source of methane emissions. Agricultural emissions are putting the planet at risk of permanently breaching the 1.5 degrees Celsius planetary temperature threshold that would lead to catastrophic climate-related disasters like rising ocean temperatures, the melting of Arctic sea ice, drought, wildfires, extreme weather, flooding and coastal erosion.
“It is hard to understand why decision-makers would allow companies like JBS to have a seat at the table at climate negotiations,” Urbancic said in the press release. “They are simply not credible partners in these crucial talks, especially now when the time for action is rapidly running out.”
According to Urbancic, big meat producers are mimicking the oil industry’s strategies of using voluntary pledges to delay action on climate, all the while promoting science funded by the meat industry.
The GMA documents also revealed that the meat and dairy industry plans to collaborate with governments and major meat-producing countries to advance their agenda in Dubai.
Government support of animal agriculture is believed by some academics to be a significant factor in the industry continuing to have power over meat and dairy alternatives, the press release said.
For instance, a study from earlier this year found United States meat and dairy farmers received 800 times the public funding of novel alternative sources of protein, and in the European Union it was 400 times higher than that.
Brazil, Australia and the U.S. are the three biggest exporters of beef worldwide, with their respective governments holding a considerable economic interest in the industry’s growth.
“Typically, the talk is about demand side interventions, like you can get schools [or] individuals to give up meat,” Jacquet said in the press release. “But I’m a little worried that some of this [meat] production is so baked into subsidies and policy, that even with decreased demand, this apparatus will just keep flowing. We need the animal agriculture equivalent of ‘keep it in the ground’ for fossil fuels. It’s really about production at the end of the day.”