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5. Environment matters

DAFC gave a cautious welcome to the COP21 agreement in the hope that food security will remain a vital consideration as new environmental policy initiatives are developed. Although the livestock industry was not ‘centre stage’ at the recent negotiations, there is no doubt that meat and dairy production and consumption will continue to attract the attention of politicians in the years ahead.

“The much heralded COP21 agreement in Paris is an important step which can help solve the major global challenges that are facing us in the years ahead,” says Danish Agriculture & Food Council Vice-Chairman, Lars Hvidtfeldt.

Lars Hvitfeldt – "consideration of food security is vital”

“Climate change is a global challenge that requires global solutions. International collaboration is crucial,” says Lars Hvidtfeldt, who was present during the recent negotiations in Paris.

For DAFC, it was of paramount importance to get the international community to recognise food security as a key theme in future climate discussions.

“In recent days, the message from the world’s farmers has been clear. We need to promote a climate friendly, sustainable intensification of global food production so the world can produce more food with fewer resources,” says Lars Hvidtfeldt.

DAFC took part in the recent COP21 negotiations through the international agricultural organisation, World Farmers Organisation.

“We are very pleased that we have managed to get food security on the agenda, and the final agreement incorporates the fact that food security is a fundamental priority and that we must find climate solutions that do not disadvantage food production.”

“Within an international context, the agreement fails to fully address the unique characteristics of the agricultural sector. But it is an important step in the right direction.”

“It is crucial that Danish food production is not jeopardised by further restrictive commitments. The most efficient productions like those we have in Denmark – and which have been achieved with the use of modern technology, research and energy saving – should continue to enjoy conditions that ensure growth, development and innovation, which will also bring benefits to the global community,” says Lars Hvidtfeldt.

 
 Arnie says “eat less meat” at COP21

 

The COP21 negotiations largely focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing reliance on energy produced from fossil fuels. However, there was some reference to global farming issues, such as deforestation and the environmental impact of the modern livestock industries. Encouragement to eat less or no meat came from an unexpected quarter during an interview with the former governor of California (aka Arnold Schwarzenegger).

Meat industry challenge
There is no doubt the meat industry will continue to face challenges as it seeks to bring balance to the debate about the environmental impact of modern livestock production.

 
 Tax on meat?

A recent report from the ‘think-tank’ Chatham House ('Changing climates, changing diets') urged government to consider more ‘interventionist’ measures to discourage higher levels of meat consumption, including the introduction of a ‘carbon tax for meat’. Needless to say, the report received significant media coverage:

The report was roundly criticised by meat industry spokespersons, including Stephen Rossides, Director of the British Meat Processors Association, who said:

“The report takes little account of very different livestock production and meat consumption patterns across the world and, consequently, differing environmental impacts. It conflates health issues with environmental ones, and ignores both the positive environmental aspects of livestock production, its economic and social importance to many communities across the world, and the health benefits of eating meat as part of a balanced diet.”