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Meat and Dairy Could Overtake Fossils as World’s Biggest Carbon Polluter

The meat and dairy industries are on a trajectory to overtake fossil fuels as the world’s biggest contributor to climate change, according to an analysis published last month by the non-profit Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and GRAIN.

The study “found that, broadly speaking, the companies were being secretive about their emissions data, and few had set hard targets intended to deal with their pollution,” The Independent reports. “If these industries continue down their current path, the authors of the report warned that the livestock sector could be responsible for 80% of the allowable greenhouse gas budget by 2050.

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The organizations concluded that the world’s top five meat and dairy producers already account for more carbon pollution than colossal fossils ExxonMobil, Shell, or BP.

“There’s no other choice. Meat and dairy production in the countries where the top 35 companies dominate must be significantly reduced,” said Montreal-based GRAIN researcher Devlin Kuyek. “These corporations are pushing for trade agreements that will increase exports and emissions, and they are undermining real climate solutions like agroecology that benefit farmers, workers, and consumers.” 

“It’s time we realized over-consumption is directly linked to the subsidies we provide the industry to continue deforesting, depleting our natural resources, and creating a major public health hazard through antibiotic overuse,” said IATP Director Shefali Sharma. “This report shows what a key role they play in creating climate change, as well.”