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Factory Farming and Our Climate


The livestock sector and the production of animal products have serious implications for animals, humans, and the environment. World-wide, 14.5% of total man-made greenhouse gas emissions are from animal production, of which the beef and dairy industries play a big part, due to the high demand for animal feed as well as the releases of methane, which are the biggest polluters in the sector.


Although there is significant public discussion about causes and solutions for climate change, and increasing scientific research on industrial animal farming, the consumption of animal products such as meat, milk and eggs as a major contributor to greenhouse gas is largely ignored both by governments and industry.


Humans consume significantly more meat than needed from a nutritional point of view. This also harms our health and causes the suffering of countless animals. Statistically, we consume an average of six portions of meat per person, per week. However, nutritional scientists recommend eating no more than 2-3 portions a week. We are therefore consuming twice as much as the recommended amount. This is not just damaging to our health and responsible for the suffering of millions of animals – it is also responsible for the biggest human contribution to climate change.


Easting less meat helps the climate more than anything else can. In fact, this highly effective method to protect the climate would save large amounts of money: at the moment, the price of animal products is heavily subsidized by tax income. Animal farmers are provided with a minimum price for their products which cannot be achieved in a free market. Every produced gallon of milk, piece of meat or egg therefore costs taxpayers – even if we do not buy it ourselves.


Cheap, low-quality products are able to compete with high-quality products due to a lack of a reliable, effective and comprehensive labelling and control system for quality standards. If such a reliable labelling system for quality standards was introduced and tax income was no longer wasted on supporting the production of animal products, the money saved by state and federal governing bodies could be invested in other sensible measures. Our consumption of animal products is already unhealthily high; a state-sponsored increase in the use of animal products is therefore not only unnecessary, but also damaging to our health and to our economies which rely on state subsidies.


A clear labelling system (like organic products) is necessary to identify animal-friendly products, to enable consumers to easily identify differing levels of quality. This is, after all, the only way that people can rely on the fact that they are purchasing high-quality products. As a result of this, farmers would be able to demand fairer prices for their products (even without subsidies), in return for ensuring higher standards of quality and animal keeping. As improved keeping conditions demand more work, additional agricultural jobs would be created.


The animal products, of which too many are consumed anyway, would therefore become more expensive, but also much better. If the subsidization of animal products ends, fruit, vegetables and grain would once again become competitive in terms of price, therefore making it easier to have a healthy diet. Healthier people mean lower costs for health providers. These savings could then be used to provide better levels of care for those who do fall ill.


This way we could slow down climate change, improve national economies and create additional jobs. In addition, we could save innumerable animals from factory farming and processing which completely ignores their requirements and their well-being.


FOUR PAWS supports greater research and production of meat substitutes and educational campaigns for social change. It is only through education that the public will understand how changing our eating habits will the benefit climate protection, environmental protection, and animal welfare.