We, the undersigned, recognise the critical need to reduce the level of greenhouse gases emitted by the global animal protein supply chain if we are to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
We also recognise that, as the global regulatory landscape moves to accelerate the low carbon transition, a policy response that is adopted earlier will result in a transition for protein producers and retailers that is more managed than a delayed or reactive response. Therefore, to ensure a timely and just transition for global protein producers and food retailers, we are encouraging meaningful dialogue on this issue now.
The scope of the problem
The IPCC’s ‘Special Report on Climate Change and Land‘ found that an estimated 23% of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in the period 2007-2016 came from agriculture, forestry and other land use. Recent research has put this at a third of global GHG emissions.
We currently produce around 340 million tonnes of meat per year, more than three times the quantity of 50 years ago, with meat consumption worldwide expected to increase 1.4% annually through to 2023. This trajectory generates a level of greenhouse gas emissions that is unsustainable. This growth is also responsible for record levels of financially material destruction of some of our most important natural biomes on the planet through deforestation and biodiversity loss. As the Dasgupta Review outlines, our future prosperity is reliant on both the protection and restoration of our natural ecosystems. Given the dairy and meat sector’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions and forest loss, protein producers are contributors to the problem, but they therefore also have the opportunity to be part of the solution.
Enteric fermentation, a digestive process in cattle and other animals that produces methane as a by-product, accounts for about 4% of all global emissions alone. That’s twice the impact of the global aviation sector. The Coller FAIRR Protein Producer Index shows that 86% of the world’s largest listed meat and dairy producers are failing to declare or set meaningful reduction targets for all greenhouse gas emissions.
The world is taking steps to transition to a net-zero economy. Given its environmental footprint, animal agriculture must be a key part of that transition. In addition, the IPCC suggests that beyond tackling animal protein production, increasing the proportion of plant-based food in global diets also has significant GHG-mitigation potential.
Therefore, we, as investors and/or stakeholders in these companies, want to encourage them to shift more rapidly towards a net-zero business model.
The NDCs are the path to a solution
The COP26 process, and each country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in particular, are key to meeting this challenge.
Initial analysis by WWF on the INDCs indicates that 89% (168 out of 189 countries) of countries that have submitted NDCs have included agriculture and/or land-use change and forestry in their climate change commitments. However, the sector is typically addressed as part of a country’s overall economic targets. In fact, there are only a handful of countries that specifically mention agriculture in their sectoral targets.
This lack of clear targets disincentivises climate action, and creates a dearth of environmental data. This makes it difficult for investors and customersto know which animal agriculture companies are managing environmental risks well, and which are lagging behind.
Therefore, we see the COP26 talks this November in Glasgow as an opportunity to drive change. We ask all G20 nations to disclose specific targets for emissions reduction in agriculture within or alongside their NDC commitments at COP26.
We also encourage countries to go further to establish frameworks for a transition to more healthy and sustainable diets that move away from an over-reliance on animal proteins.
Clear national targets for emissions reductions in the agriculture sector will not only help investors to better understand environmental risk in the industry, it will increase ambition under the NDCs. Over 90% of current NDCs fail to account for the whole food system, and yet improved climate action on food systems could deliver 20% of the global emissions reductions needed by 2050.
We urge G20 governments to seize this opportunity to help build a more transparent, resilient and sustainable global food system.
Sign the statement to ask our governments ‘Where’s the Beef?’ and put animal agriculture on the agenda for COP26.