If left unchecked, the report says, agriculture is projected to produce 52% of global greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades, 70% of which will come from meat and dairy.
Bunny McDiarmid, executive director of Greenpeace International said governments continue to support massive meat and dairy operations, “leading to more and more meat consumption while putting our health, our children’s health, and the health of our planet at risk. Instead, they should be supporting the increasing numbers of farmers shifting towards ecological production of healthy foods, and helping people access healthy plant-based foods.”
“A new, diverse global movement is growing: one hungry for a better way of eating and producing food that is in tune with ourselves and the environment,” McDiarmid said.
“Together, we can loosen the grip of industrial animal agriculture on our food system and build a healthier world for our generation and the next.”
IDF points to reduction in environmental impact
However, Caroline Emond, chief executive of the International Dairy Federation (IDF), responded by telling DairyReporter, “The global dairy sector is committed to reducing its environmental footprint, but it should be noted that the overall contribution of global milk production and the associated processing and transportation to total greenhouse gas emissions is estimated at 2.7%, according to Food and Agriculture Organisation data.
“Across the world, there is a great deal of industry-leading technical and scientific work being carried out to reduce environmental impact. The dairy sector has also committed to key initiatives such as the Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam and the Dairy Sustainability Framework.”
Emond added the Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam aims to reiterate the integrated approach that the dairy sector takes to the sustainable development of dairy and the generation of social, economic and environmental benefits for people and the planet.
The Dairy Sustainability Framework has been developed to provide overarching goals and alignment of the sector’s actions globally on the path to sustainability, she said.
“Food production in all forms has some environmental impact but this should be viewed in the context of providing public health benefits, food security, employment and animal stewardship,” Emond said.
“Stakeholders from agriculture, industry, academia and government are working collaboratively to identify practical and sustainable interventions to minimise the environmental impact of dairy and to ensure that consumers across the globe continues to be fed with safe, sustainable and nutritious dairy produce now and in the future.”
‘Only significant decrease will help’
However, Pete Smith, former convening lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), disagrees, saying the need to reduce demand for livestock products is now a scientifically mainstream view.
“Only a significant decrease in meat and milk consumption will allow us to deliver a food system fit for the future – for the benefit of humans and the planet as a whole,” Smith said.
“Producing the same mix of foods as we consume now, even if we were to do so more sustainably, cannot deliver the reduction in environmental impacts we need to protect the planet for our children and their children.”