Big meat companies and lobby groups are going on the attack at COP28 armed with industry-funded “scientific evidence” that meat is “sustainable,” leaked documents appear to show.
As the devastating environmental impacts of animal agriculture become harder for policymakers to ignore, the meat lobby has drawn up plans to hit back at the annual UN climate conference, which is taking place now in Dubai.
Documents produced by the industry-funded Global Meat Alliance (GMA) suggest that the meat lobby is ready to “tell its story and tell it well.”
According to people at DeSmog who have seen the documents, meat companies plan to present “our scientific evidence” at the conference.
Animal agriculture is generally understood to be responsible for at least 16.5% of total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As pressure grows to reduce emissions, COP28 will see a day dedicated to food, agriculture, and water for the very first time.
What is the meat lobby’s plan for COP28?
According to DeSmog, the documents offer a comprehensive guide to COP, including information on thematic days and agriculture-based events. The documents also seem to provide industry-approved messages – and robust advice to stick to them.
JBS, the world’s largest meat company, is planning to come out in “full force,” it is claimed. Other big industry bodies, including the Global Dairy Platform and the North American Meat Institute will also push the pro-meat message.
Key messaging the meat lobby will use include the idea that meat will help to “feed the world.” Studies have repeatedly shown that increasing plant-based foods is the key solution to meet global food needs.
Another key line of attack reported by the Guardian, which has also seen the documents, mentions branding meat as “sustainable nutrition.”
Moving towards a plant-based food system
The new plan comes after positive steps ahead of COP28 towards climate-friendly food.
There are signs that the tide is turning on the meat lobby’s power. It has been reported that the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) will make a statement at COP28 urging the world’s most-developed nations to limit their excessive meat consumption.
Moreover, unlike at previous climate conferences, COP28 is serving mostly vegan food.
To fight back, the meat lobby is planning to have a large presence at COP28, the documents suggest. Dairy companies are also planning on sending a “large delegation” to COP28. Dairy alone is responsible for an estimated 3.4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The real scientific evidence
This body of meat industry-funded research contradicts the majority of scientific papers, which make clear that plant-based foods have a significantly lower environmental impact.
Animal agriculture is the largest emitter of human-caused methane. Studies have shown that, without swift action, methane from agriculture alone will push the world beyond the 1.5C temperature limit set out in the Paris Agreement.
Food looks set to be a key battleground at COP28. Countering the lobbying power of the meat industry, ProVeg International will be present in the Food4Climate Pavilion. The group aims to promote the science-backed solution of moving towards a plant-based food system.