"With 80 billion animals farmed globally, most on cruel factory farms, the report shows us the best way to protect animals and our climate is to end factory farming. "
August 29th, 2022: A new study by World Animal Protection has revealed the true impact of factory farming on our planet, finding that ongoing expansion of factory farming will put the achievement of the Paris Climate Agreement goals and a climate-safe future out of reach.
Every year, 80 billion animals are farmed globally, most on cruel factory farms. This latest report, Climate change and cruelty: revealing the true impact of factory farming,analysed the environmental effects of factory-farmed chicken and pork in four of the world’s most giant factory farming hot spots. It found that emissions from chicken meat in Brazil, China, Netherlands and US alone are equivalent to keeping 29 million cars on the road for a year.
Pork and chicken are often overlooked as contributors to climate change, as more emphasis is placed on the methane that cows produce from digestion and manure. This report exposes the hidden climate impact of factory farming, showing that we need to shift diets away from pork and chicken and beef to plant-based diets if we combat climate change in our food system.
Four of the biggest factory farming hot spots were assessed – Europe (using data from the Netherlands), US, Brazil and China. Top-line findings show that:
The land is cleared into biodiversity hot spots to grow crops to feed farmed animals, releasing carbon into the atmosphere and destroying wild animal habitats. Crops are traded globally, destined for factory farms.
When deforestation to grow feed crops – especially soya - for global trade is considered, this doubles the overall climate change impact of factory-farmed meat in the Netherlands and increases the effect by more than one and a half times in China.
A 50% reduction in consumption of both chicken and pork by 2040, along with a 50% adoption of higher welfare products, would halve the annual climate impacts of chicken and pork production across these four hot spots.
This would be equivalent to taking 45 million cars off the road for a year in the four hot spots combined.
The study is the first to measure how eating less factory-farmed chicken and pork could help safeguard our climate if combined with ending the cruellest practices on factory farms.
It comes as factory farming is expected to explode, as demand for meat is expected to increase as much as 30% in Africa, 18% in the Asia Pacific, 12% in Latin America, and 9% in North America by 2030.
Jacqueline Mills, Global head of farming at World Animal Protection, said: “When people think of the significant causes of climate change, they often think about burning fossil fuels for industrial purposes, energy and transport. But there’s a hidden climate culprit, and one that could be on your plate – factory-farmed meat.
“Factory farming - either directly or indirectly through the feed chain, is to blame for the destruction of vital habitats and the displacement of wildlife and is the most significant cause of animal suffering on the planet. Sentient animals are deprived of any quality of life and suffer their entire lives – many never see sunlight, roam freely in a field, or even have a life free of pain. This is cruelty at its very worst, and it must end.
“We need governments to step up to meet commitments to address deforestation and emissions by ending factory farming. They need to recognise the damage it does to animals, people and the planet. We are running out of time to save our planet, and they are out of excuses not to address it.”
World Animal Protection is also calling for:
Governments are the key player in subsidising factory farming. They have the power to shift policy and funding decisions away from factory farming in support of humane and sustainable food systems.
Industry to transition to a humane and sustainable food system by implementing FARMS farm animal welfare standards as a minimum, reducing the production of animal protein,
Consumers to choose to eat less meat. By consuming fewer animal products and choosing higher welfare products (eat less and better), we can help to safeguard our climate and planet and protect animal welfare.
Note to editors:
The IPCC Sixth Assessment Report released earlier this year acknowledges that action on climate change is needed for food systems including climate mitigation actions to shift towards plant-based diets.
Facts from the report
The 4 biggest factory farming markets of the world are China, Brazil, US and Europe.
Meat consumption rates in 2020 for the four-factory farming hot spots are already high. Europeans consume around 33kg of pork per person per year and 23kg of chicken. Brazilians eat 41kg of chicken and 12kg of pork each year, US people eat 23kg of pork and 50kg of chicken and in China, pork is the most consumed meat, with 26kg per person and 14kg of chicken.
The climate impacts of factory farmed chicken alone in these factory farming hot spots is the equivalent of driving almost 29 million cars for a year.
Animal feed production is the dominant contributor to factory farming’s climate impact.
A million kilograms of factory farmed chicken need almost 4.3 million square meters of land dedicated to animal feed, while a million kilograms of factory farmed pork needs around 5.8 million square meters of land dedicated to animal feed. That’s around the size of 672-906 football fields which is an area that can accommodate up to 1.45 million trees.
For every 100 calories of crops fed to farmed animals, only 17-30 calories end up feeding people. Meat and dairy provide only 18% of overall calories and 37% of protein for humans, but they use 83% of farmland. It is far better to grow crops that feed humans directly through mostly plant-based diets.
Methane from the manure of factory farmed pigs accounts for 21% of overall pork emissions for Netherlands, 22% for US, and 24% for Brazil.
By 2040, China’s per person annual consumption of chicken is expected to have increased from current levels to 15kg and pork to 31kg. Increases in chicken consumption are also expected in Brazil, US and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development