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Countries urged to curb factory farming to meet climate goals

 – Restricting factory farming should play a key role in efforts to cut climate-warming greenhouse gases, an environmental charity said on Wednesday, as emissions from “food systems” emerge as a major focus of COP28 climate talks in Dubai starting Thursday.

Factory farming alone is responsible for at least 11% of global emissions, according to research published on Wednesday by World Animal Protection. The charity said around 70% of the 80 billion animals reared every year for food were held in factory farm systems, contributing 6.2 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions annually.

The COP28 presidency of the United Arab Emirates has urged countries to sign a “leaders’ declaration” committing them to align food production with broader emissions goals. It is also spearheading initiatives to promote agricultural innovation.

“What’s very exciting about this COP is that the leaders’ declaration commits countries that sign it to include food systems in their nationally determined contributions and their national adaptation plans,” said David Garrahy, external affairs manager at World Animal Protection.

Food systems as a whole contribute about a third of global greenhouse gas, with animal agriculture responsible for a fifth, he said.

Analyzing more than 400 attribution studies, the charity said factory farming from the global north alone was responsible for around $8 billion in damage caused by recent extreme weather in Asia, Africa and South America.

It called for a 10-year moratorium on new factory farms and urged countries to redirect subsidies to more sustainable livestock and plant-based food production. It also said big industrial farming conglomerates must contribute more to climate loss and damage funds.

COP28 will stage a “Food4Climate” Pavilion as well as a “Food Day” to highlight the role played by food production in global warming, deforestation and habitat destruction.

Mr. Garrahy said some have branded food as a distraction from the key task of tackling fossil fuels, but food systems account for around 15% of global fossil fuel consumption.

“I don’t think you can bring an end to fossil fuels without addressing food systems. We don’t accept that this is a diversion tactic. It is at the heart of the Paris Agreement.” – Reuters

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