Many plant-based activists claim that leaders at COP26 aren’t paying enough attention to methane emissions from agriculture. They say that a global change in diet toward veganism could help slow climate change.

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Animal agriculture contributes about 20% to human-caused climate change. The need for grazing land also drives deforestation. But the two-week climate talks in Glasgow lumped talk about agriculture into a themed “Nature Day” last Saturday, along with land and ocean management.

Related: COP26’s meaty menu sparks controversy over emissions

“The scale and speed of the shift that is needed to halt and reverse the climate damage caused by livestock demands world leaders to take decisive action,” said Sean Mackenney of the Humane Society International, as reported by CBC. “COP26 has been framed as a Race to Zero. But in its refusal to set ambitious targets and strategies to meaningfully reduce the kinds of impacts of animal agriculture, it is more like a gentle Sunday stroll,” he said.

Activists brought their point to the skies, flying four huge inflatable animals outside the Glasgow talks despite strong winds. Their symbolic choices were a 40-foot cow representing methane emissions, a fish for microplastics, a chicken for health and COVID and a pig representing obesity.

Farming, of course, is a complicated issue and ranges from giant operations to small family farms that produce about a third of the world’s food. Activists propose a range of solutions, from full veganism to a world of lab-grown meat to modifying farmland to create more wetlands and forests. There’s also the question of subsidies and whether farmers should be exempt from carbon taxes.

“The scale and speed of the shift that is needed to halt and reverse the climate damage caused by livestock demands world leaders to take decisive action,” said Sean Mackenney of the Humane Society International, as reported by CBC. “COP26 has been framed as a Race to Zero. But in its refusal to set ambitious targets and strategies to meaningfully reduce the kinds of impacts of animal agriculture, it is more like a gentle Sunday stroll,” he said.

Activists brought their point to the skies, flying four huge inflatable animals outside the Glasgow talks despite strong winds. Their symbolic choices were a 40-foot cow representing methane emissions, a fish for microplastics, a chicken for health and COVID and a pig representing obesity.

Farming, of course, is a complicated issue and ranges from giant operations to small family farms that produce about a third of the world’s food. Activists propose a range of solutions, from full veganism to a world of lab-grown meat to modifying farmland to create more wetlands and forests. There’s also the question of subsidies and whether farmers should be exempt from carbon taxes.

In terms of individual choices, cutting meat consumption is one of the most effective ways for people to reduce their carbon footprints. But people have a strong gut reaction to anyone trying to take away their meat — kind of like if you made them get vaccinated during a public health crisis or pried their guns out of their hands. A comment on the CBC website summed up people’s feelings about individual rights versus global survival: “My right to choose whatever diet I think to be best for myself and my own health is something I am willing to use whatever force may be required to defend.” If agricultural emissions are to be reduced, it’s likely going to take mandates from on high, rather than enough individuals deciding to do the right thing.

Via CBC, The Guardian

Lead image via Pexels