Scientific consensus: animal agriculture is a leading cause of climate change

Pudelek (Marcin Szala), CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Scientific consensus tells us that the farming and eating of animals is responsible for about 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions and causes grave environmental degradation, from biodiversity loss to deforestation. 

Our increasing appetite for animal-based products is a leading cause of the climate emergency. Science has shown over and over again that tackling the climate crisis with our forks and knives is one of the most effective ways to save the planet. This link has been understood and accepted by the scientific community for decades yet there is limited public understanding of the connection – and existing climate policy does not reflect the urgent need for reduction.

A 2019 Special Report on Climate Change and Land  by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) described plant-based diets as a major opportunity for mitigating and adapting to climate change ― and included a policy recommendation to reduce meat consumption. Switching to a plant-based diet could reduce individual food-related emissions by up to 50%.

In August this year, the IPCC published its most damning report yet, showing how human activity is changing the Earth’s climate in ways that are “unprecedented” with some of the changes now inevitable and irreversible.

Cutting down our consumption of animals is essential to protecting the future of planet Earth.


The facts

Meat: Humans consume 346.14 million tons of meat every year. By 2030, this number will be 453 million – a 44% increase. 

Dairy: The biggest dairy companies in the world have the same combined greenhouse gas emissions as the UK, the sixth biggest economy in the world. By 2028, global consumption of fresh and processed dairy products is expected to increase by 2.1% and 1.5% a year respectively, according to the OECD-FAO.

Deforestation: 80% of the world’s deforestation is related to our current food system and nearly 70% of cleared land in the Amazon is used for cattle grazing.

Feeding livestock: Globally, 75% of soya is used to feed livestock. Vast areas of forest and natural habitat have been destroyed and replaced with soya fields. Converting forests and grasslands into farmland for soya releases carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Trees absorb and store carbon dioxide. Fewer trees means more carbon in the atmosphere. 



Paris Agreement: If world leaders do not recognise the impact of animal agriculture on our climate, the Paris Agreement, which aims to keep the global temperature increase below 1.5 degrees celsius, is likely to fail, which will lead to drastic consequences for all of humanity. 

The Paris Agreement is an important international agreement that holds countries accountable for achieving their climate targets. However plant-rich diets haven’t yet been recognised by the international community as a strategy to stop the climate crisis from spinning out of control. So far, the Paris Agreement hasn’t even mentioned reducing meat consumption or shifting towards more plant-rich diets as climate-mitigation strategies. 

COP26: The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) is the most important meeting of world leaders ever to take place. It is vital that the world unites in order to tackle the climate crisis. The event will be hosted in Glasgow in November and will bring parties together to accelerate concrete actions towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. World leaders need to formally recognise the negative impact of industrial animal agriculture on our climate at COP26 and commit to developing and investing in mitigation strategies in order to support and drive a just transition towards plant-centred food systems.


What governments can do immediately

  1. Catering: are key public institutions and schools serving enough plant-based meal options?
  2. Subsidies and a just transition: is your government supporting industrial animal agriculture financially?
  3. Support: what about public money for climate-friendly plant-based innovations? Is this kind of funding being implemented by your government?
  4. National Dietary Guidelines: is your government supporting plant-rich guidelines?
  5. Taxation: are animal-sourced products fairly taxed compared to healthy and climate-friendly foods?
  6. Labelling: are the impacts of animal-based products on health, environment, and animal welfare communicated to consumers in a transparent way? 


What you can do:

Go to Diet Change Not Climate Change

Take the pledge

Sign the petition

Share far and wide!


For more information:

Charlie Baker

[email protected]

+447508 125 611



ProVeg International

ProVeg International is a food awareness organisation working to transform the global food system by replacing animal-based products with plant-based and cultured alternatives. 

ProVeg works with decision-making bodies, companies, investors, the media, and the general public to help the world transition to a society and economy that are less reliant on animal agriculture and more sustainable for all humans, animals, and our planet.

ProVeg has offices in nine countries across four continents and is active around the world. ProVeg has permanent observer status with the UNFCCC, special consultative status with ECOSOC, is accredited for UNEA, and has received the United Nations’ Momentum for Change Award.