The world demand for food, especially meat and dairy, is currently a major driver of climate change.
In Canada, the livestock and industrial agriculture industries are one of our leading sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution. The way we currently grow and harvest our food contributes to the production of GHG pollution through agricultural machinery, the energy used for transporting crops and animals, the use of fertilizers, the gases released from animals, and deforestation.
According to experts looking into this for the United Nations, animal farming alone accounted for 14.5% of global GHG pollution in 2013; that’s more than was released by the tailpipes of all the world’s vehicles that year. (1) In Canada, GHG pollution from livestock farming accounted for more than 42% of our agricultural GHG pollution in 2015. To give you can idea how much much that is, our agricultural sector currently creates more GHG pollution than all manufacturing and cement production in the country after you exclude the pollution associated with their energy use. (2)
When it comes to fighting climate change, the experts are categorical: not only do we need major reforms in the way we produce and distribute food, but our diets also need to change if we are to be successful.
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(1) Tackling Climate Change through Livestock A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’
(2) Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks – Executive Summary, Environment and Climate Change Canada