A recent report found that meat and dairy are the largest contributors to climate change. According to Business Green, emissions coming from the titans of the meat and dairy industries, JBS, Tyson, Cargill, Dairy Farmers of America and Fonterra, already cause more emissions than oil companies, such as ExxonMobil, Shell, or BP. The study, which was conducted by the U.S.-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), is the first of its kind.
Fifteen percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the meat and dairy industries. Emissions from the world’s top 20 companies in the meat and dairy industry far surpass emissions from entire countries, like “Germany, Canada, Australia or the United Kingdom,” according to the Independent.
What the IATP (who partnered with GRAIN) found in its report is that most of the world’s largest meat and dairy companies, there are 35 in total, consistently underreport the estimates of their products emissions. The report also discovered that roughly 80 percent of their emissions from meat and dairy come from “supply chains.” IATP reports that, if unchecked, the emissions from these industries will overtake the greenhouse gas budget.
“If the growth of the global meat and dairy industry continues as projected, the livestock sector as a whole could consume 80 percent of the planet’s annual greenhouse gas budget by 2050.”
Despite the knowledge that meat and dairy most definitely contribute to the planet’s emissions, most companies are “pushing for growth in production and exports.”
In order to lessen the effects that meat and dairy have on climate change, according to the Director of the IATP, Shefali Sharma, “production and consumption of meat and dairy in more affluent countries need to fall and production practices need to change.”
She added that the report shows how much of a role the meat and dairy industries play when it comes to climate change.
Devlin Kuyek, a researcher with the non-profit GRAIN, says that these companies are “pushing for trade agreements that will increase exports and emissions,” and that they are “undermining real climate solutions like agroecology that benefit farmers, workers, and consumers.”
Even before this study came out, many were calling for a “meat tax.” The “sin tax,” as it’s known colloquially, has been proposed to help reduce the amount of overconsumption of meat and dairy. According to The Atlantic, Americans ate over “200 pounds of meat” in 2017, which is “twice the global average.”
Despite the proposed tax, most project that meat consumption will increase over 75 percent.