Thousands of chickens in a small broiler hall compleyx

COP28: First Ever Global Stocktake Fails the Road to 1.5 °C

FOUR PAWS concerned as role of food systems and animal welfare are neglected


Vienna/Dubai, 13 December 2023 – One day later than the officially planned end of the 28th COP, the UAE Presidency has put food systems, agriculture and climate action on the table. 160 countries have signed the COP28 UAE Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action, committing to strengthening efforts to integrate agriculture and food systems into national climate plans, and revisiting their policies and public support related to agriculture and food systems. Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS welcomes this first step in the right direction but is seriously concerned the broader narrative outside of the negotiations privileges technical solutions to the current industrial systems that might even increase the suffering of animals.

This COP also saw the political outcomes of the first ever Global Stocktake (GST), which assessed how countries have so far acted to meet the 1.5ºC target. However, in the negotiating room, food was more of a side dish. Despite the promise of earlier iterations that included references to food system transformation, these were later removed. Although the final political text recognizes resilient food systems as essential for climate adaptation, it fails to address the necessary mitigation measures for a sector responsible for a third of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

“Addressing the food-climate nexus holistically is essential for meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement and achieving food security, climate adaptation and climate mitigation. A reduction in the number of animals farmed in the Global North is the key to this. Merely increasing productivity will mean more suffering for more animals as crowded housing and high-yield breeds lead to major welfare and health problems. Now countries are tasked to update their national climate plans, it's time for them to acknowledge that transforming food systems and agriculture is crucial to climate action and many must start by putting an end to factory farming. Let us not force 80 billion sentient beings every year to fit a broken system and drastically reduce meat production and consumption.”

Josef Pfabigan, CEO of FOUR PAWS

COP28 saw the first ever Global Stocktake (GST) since the Paris agreement, which assesses how countries have so far acted to meet the maximum target of 1.5°C. Given the overall poor performance, most of the countries need to optimize their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and have them aligned and implemented according to the Paris agreement by 2030.

Currently, animals are bred to fit the needs of a broken system that prioritises profit over climate concerns and subjects sentient beings to chronic stress, fear and pain. Another model based on positive animal welfare interventions is urgently needed. Most importantly, fewer animals overall means fewer emissions and more space for the remaining animals to perform their natural behaviours. Permanent access to maintained extensive pastures and limiting herd sizes are some of the measures that can directly improve the lives of 80 billion farm animals every year and mitigate and adapt to climate change.

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Michael Kellner

Michael Kellner

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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions.

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