cow in dairy farm

EU Commissioners avoid the Cow in the Room

FOUR PAWS condemns missed opportunity in EU 2040 climate targets


Vienna/Brussels, 7 February 2024 – Yesterday, the European Commission announced its agreement for an EU net emission reduction target of 90% for 2040. The document lays out a number of policies through which this target could be achieved but omits any mention of substantial regulation for the agricultural and animal farming sector. Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS strongly condemns the business-as-usual approach in maintaining a regulatory exceptionalism that only benefits the largest companies in the sector. Coming off the back of the farmers’ protests, it has become clear that the sector needs a systemic change to become socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. FOUR PAWS criticises this missed opportunity and strongly urges for a reduction of factory farming and the transition to food system, respecting animal welfare and the planet.

“Our planet is running out of time. Actions on all levels are needed to mitigate the deadly effects of global warming on animals, the environment and humans. To slow down global warming, we need to halt some of the most dominant drivers of the climate crisis: factory farming, the overproduction and overconsumption of meat and dairy. The European Commission is failing to seize the opportunity to transition to a food system respecting animal welfare and the planet. We urge the European Commission to stop factory farming and to end the suffering of billions of farm animals,”

Josef Pfabigan, CEO and President at FOUR PAWS

As the impact assessment conducted by the Commission states, around 50% of non-CO2 GHG emissions come from agriculture. Animal farming alone is responsible for 55% of the EU’s methane emissions. This is echoed by the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change (ESABCC), for whom climate neutrality cannot be achieved without shifting away from emission-intensive agricultural practices such as livestock pollution.

However, this reality has been disregarded by the Commission, as the communication lacks a sectorial target and an ambitious path for the transformation of the current animal farming sector. FOUR PAWS urges the EU to seriously consider the challenging task of changing our food systems, starting with a just and humane reduction in the number of farm animals. This is the quickest way to reduce the animal farming sector’s carbon footprint.

Miguel Zhan Dai, Climate Policy Officer at FOUR PAWS said “While we welcome the European Commission’s step in further recognising the critical role that dietary shifts will play in the EU’s emission reduction, this is only one side of the food system. A systemic shift that moves away from intensive animal agriculture is simply inevitable if the European Union is to cut 90% of its emissions. The missing piece is political willingness for a just and fair transition that provides a sustainable future for all.”

pig in factory farm


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Vera Mair PR International Officer

Vera Mair 

PR International Officer

+43 (0) 664 409 05 16

VIER PFOTEN International 
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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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