Global-No Country - 1
For many years now, climate researchers have been warning that the world can’t meet its Paris Agreement climate goals of limiting global warming to 1.5°C without reducing meat consumption. Multiple studies have affirmed that between 11.1 and 19.6% of global emissions come from meat and dairy production, and leading global food and climate agencies are also in agreement, recommending that people, particularly those in the Global North, reduce meat consumption in favor of a plant-rich diet.
The effects of animal agriculture on the environment and climate are vast: It is a leading cause of deforestation, it’s responsible for significant biodiversity loss and pollution, and emits large amounts of greenhouse gases, particularly methane. Methane alone is the cause of over 25% of global warming, for which reason reducing methane emissions is critical. If emissions continue as they are now, the food sector alone is enough to push global warming past that 1.5°C limit, while just reducing meat consumption could get the world much closer to our emissions goal. In the United States, this reduction would mean that the average person would consume about 70% fewer animal products on a daily basis, with the greatest reductions coming from red meat and chicken—92% less red meat and 81% less chicken, according to EAT-Lancet Commission recommendations.
Despite the extensive research supporting the reduction of animal product consumption, there’s long been a disconnect between what the research shows and what the public understands. According to a recent consumer study conducted by Purdue researchers: “The belief that ‘eating less meat is better for the environment,’ which is strongly supported by many climate and environmental researchers, is at an all-time low” (Lusk & Polzin, 2023). The reason for this disconnect is multifaceted, but at least one factor is the information the public receives regarding the connection between animal agriculture and climate change.
Given the role of the media in informing the public about important issues like climate change, this partner project between Faunalytics and Sentient Media sought to understand how the media communicates the environmental implications of animal agriculture to readers. By analyzing recent climate articles from top U.S. media outlets, we drilled down on how often the media makes the connection between animal agriculture and climate change when reporting on climate issues, and how reporting on animal agriculture in relation to climate change misses the mark.
ARÉVALO, CONI and Anderson, Jo, "Animal Agriculture Is The Missing Piece In Climate Change Media Coverage" (2023). Agriculture. 1.