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The scale of livestock production, facilitated by the global shift towards industrialisation, is a major contributor to climate change. This model of production causes significant harm to biodiversity, air, soil, and water pollution which in turn demonstrably contribute to and are worsened by climate change. Moreover, industrial animal farming contributes to increased zoonoses and other public health impacts and negatively affects farmers’ and workers’ rights and animal welfare. However, livestock can be a beneficial part of agricultural landscapes, improving soil fertility, biodiversity and agricultural diversification. It is integral to many farming systems, playing an important economic and socio-cultural role in rural households. Depending on its management and relation to global value chains, livestock rearing can have a dramatically different environmental, climatic, social and animal welfare impact. Well-managed pasture-based systems can contribute to climate resilience and adaptation.
Limiting global warming to 1.5°C with equity necessitates a transformation of both unsustainable practices and a drastic decrease in industrial animal farming. Current science shows that even if fossil fuel emissions were eliminated immediately, emissions from the global food system alone would make it impossible to limit warming to 1.5°C and difficult even to realise the 2°C target.
Transforming livestock systems is therefore vital to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. The Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) must explore ways to facilitate a shift towards less and better meat production that benefits people, nature and the climate in an equitable manner.
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