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Animal ‘Factories’ Harming Mother Earth

by Wangah Wanyama
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By Jacky Achan

A new report by World Animal Protection, a global animal welfare non-profit organization shows that factory farming contributes at least 11% of the global greenhouse gases fueling climate change.

The report “How Factory Farming Emissions Are Worsening Climate Disasters in the Global South” also details how intensive animal agriculture is impacting small-holder farming, which contributes to the livelihoods and food security of 1.7 billion people.

According to the new report, the Global North’s factory farms are responsible for $8.65 billion worth of damage across recent disasters in Africa, Asia and South America.

It shows that by 2050, the economic costs associated with climate driven disasters globally could exceed $1 trillion annually as the impacts of climate change intensify with factory farms liable for over $100 billion of that cost.

It said the fact that factory farming is a resource-intensive business, it releases a large proportion of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, worsening heat waves, wildfires, floods and droughts.

In addition, swathes of wild habitat are destroyed to plant crops for animal feed, killing wild species and releasing more carbon, and the journey from factory farm to dinner plate pumps around six trillion tons of emissions into the atmosphere.

Furthermore, billions of caged animals in factory farms are subjected to unimaginable cruelty.

To stave off diseases which fester in the cramped conditions, they are dosed with antibiotics, fuelling the spike in antimicrobial resistance.

The report indicated that pigs, cattle and chickens are painfully mutilated and are bred to grow fast for profit, suffering debilitating injuries in the process.

“These unethical and unsustainable practices are perpetuated by the world’s biggest meat producers who are reaping record profits at the expense of vulnerable communities, animals and the environment.”

World Animal Protection disclosed that the world’s biggest meat producer, which is widely condemned for accelerating deforestation recently announced a record $72.6 billion in global net revenue.

A looming escalation

According to the World Animal Protection report, factory farming is set to surge in the Africa, driven by an expected 30% rise in meat demand.

This will not only increase factory farming emissions and contribute to worsening climate related disasters – but also replace the sustainable, agroecological pastoralists and their diversified independent farming systems.

It says African countries will have to spend US$53 billion annually by 2030 to adapt to the climate crisis.

A way out

To address their significant culpability in climate change, World Animal Protection is calling for governments at COP28 to impose a 10-year freeze on new factory farms and halt this flawed food system’s rapid global expansion.

It also calls for finance for adaptation and loss and damage to be directed towards smallholder farmers in the developing world.

The Director for Africa at World Animal Protection Tennyson Williams said animal cruelty and climate change are interlinked.

“Until we get rid of animal cruelty in farming, climate change will worsen,” he cautioned.

Williams said factory farming poses a core obstacle in achieving the targets laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement and casts a dark shadow over the prospect of a climate-safe future.

He said factory farming not only causes suffering to billions of animals and the destruction of wild habitats. It is undermining food security for communities around the world.

“Land that could be used to grow crops for humans or to protect wildlife, is instead used to plant crops to feed factory farmed animals. It’s simply a wasteful, destructive food chain.”

On his part, the Humane and Sustainable Agriculture Campaigns Manager at World Animal Protection Dr Victor Yamo said World leaders must act meaningfully at COP28.

He said the factory farming industry must be held accountable by governments and finance must be directed to the Global South communities on the front line of climate change.

“COP28 must take action to shore up a humane and sustainable food supply, with governments withdrawing subsidies for industrial meat and dairy and redirecting them to plant-based foods in ways that support small scale farmers.”

He said animals remaining on factory farms should be spared the worst forms of suffering.

The 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) is taking place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), from November 30 to December 12.

This year’s UN climate change conference has brought together leaders from governments, businesses, NGOs and civil society to find concrete solutions to the climate crisis.

The COP28 is a pivotal opportunity to correct course and accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis with global temperatures hitting record highs, and extreme weather events affecting people around the world.

It is where the world takes stock of progress on the Paris Agreement, the landmark climate treaty concluded in 2015 and chart a course of action to dramatically reduce emissions and protect lives and livelihoods.

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