Saturday

2nd Jul 2022

NGOs urge EU to tackle meat consumption 'problem'

  • The EU has come recently under fire for promoting meat and dairy consumption over 21 separate marketing campaigns (Photo: michael davis-burchat)

Greenpeace, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and a dozen of other environmental NGOs have urged the European Commission to tackle the overconsumption of meat, dairy and eggs in the EU.

The call aims to reduce the negative impact of industrial animal production on the environment, human health, animal welfare and rural communities.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The EU's Farm to Fork Strategy, which will be unveiled in the coming weeks, aims to develop a sustainable food system for Europe as part of its Green Deal.

However, ignoring the current food model jeopardises the strategy's credibility and viability to achieve its objectives of making EU food a "global standard for sustainability," warns the joint NGO letter sent on Tuesday (25 February) to the commission vice president for the Green Deal, Frans Timmermans.

Europe has seen an increase of vegetarians and vegans in recent years amid concerns about the climate impact of the livestock industry, which accounts for about 14.5 percent of global CO2 emissions.

However, NGOs are calling on the commission to introduce binding targets to reduce the consumption and production of meat, dairy and eggs.

"The Farm to Fork Strategy must ensure an end to the current model of meat production and support workers and farmers in the transition towards agro-ecology," said Stanka Becheva, food campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe.

Greenpeace is calling for global meat and dairy reductions of 50 percent by 2050, although they consider that this figure should be higher in Europe - since Europeans consume almost the double amount of meat compared with the global average.

"Producing and consuming meat and dairy has massive environmental impacts and is a major driver of climate change, so to ignore this in the Farm to Fork strategy is baffling," said Greenpeace EU agriculture campaigner Sini Eräjää.

"It's time to start treating meat and dairy like other sources of pollution, and start talking about reduction targets," she added.

A special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlighted the mitigation potential of plant-based diets for climate change.

"It would be beneficial, for both climate and human health, if people in many rich countries consumed less meat, and if politics would create appropriate incentives to that effect," said Hans-Otto Pörtner, IPCC climatologist.

In fact, a recent study of the European Investment Bank (EIB) revealed earlier this year that 79 percent of Europeans are committed to cut down red meat consumption to limit global warming.

Meanwhile, the EU has come recently under fire for promoting meat and dairy consumption while vowing to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 - the main objective of the EU's Green Deal.

Earlier this month, the Dutch animal welfare group Wakker Dier revealed that EU institutions spent €60m in the past three years to promote eating meat in 21 separate campaigns.

"We understand that you need to consider the interests of producers but not by completing ignoring the interests of consumers and the climate," said Sjoerd van de Wouw, a researcher at Wakker Dier.

According to EU sources, the commission is still working on the content of the long-awaited Farm to Fork Strategy - which will be unveiled on 25 March.

However, according to the senior head of policy at NGO BirdLife, Ariel Brunner, the draft strategy seems to contain "rhetorical flourishes with no real action".

"Food and agriculture are at the heart of the ecological crisis. This is one area where doing right by the planet means doing right by people in the most obvious way," he added.

Opinion

Roll out red carpet - or recycle it? Green Deal's EU blindspot

In Europe the rate of recycling carpet is shockingly low at 1-3 percent. Recyclers stay away from old carpets because they don't know which (potentially dangerous) chemicals they contain, or because they are very complex due to multiple materials used.

Opinion

How a Croatian gas project exposes Green Deal hypocrisy

The EU Commission is pushing a wave of controversial gas infrastructure projects, in parallel to its much-touted Green Deal. One of those a flagship project of the Republic of Croatia, who currently chairs the EU presidency.

Meat 'taboo' debated at Bonn climate summit

Animal agriculture is responsible for a significant share of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, but until recently it 'was an issue that was really brushed under the carpet'.

EU spent €252m on meat and dairy ads, despite green pledges

The European Commission has spent €252m of its farming advertising budget for 2016-2020 to promote meat and dairy products - raising concerns over the compatibility of EU agri-food promotion policy with the bloc's climate ambitions.

Opinion

When is a 'veggie burger' not a veggie burger? Ask MEPs

A ban on using meat names such as "burger" or "sausage" for vegetarian products goes against consumers' choices for more sustainable food. Plant-based foods usually have a significantly lower climate and environmental impact compared to animal-based foods, such as meat.

News in Brief

  1. EU Parliament 'photographs protesting interpreters'
  2. Poland still failing to meet EU judicial criteria
  3. Report: Polish president fishing for UN job
  4. Auditors raise alarm on EU Commission use of consultants
  5. Kaliningrad talks needed with Russia, says Polish PM
  6. Report: EU to curb state-backed foreign takeovers
  7. EU announces trade deal with New Zealand
  8. Russia threatens Norway over goods transit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways
  2. Czech presidency to fortify EU embrace of Ukraine
  3. Covid-profiting super rich should fight hunger, says UN food chief
  4. EU pollution and cancer — it doesn't have to be this way
  5. Israel smeared Palestinian activists, EU admits
  6. MEPs boycott awards over controversial sponsorship
  7. If Russia collapses — which states will break away?
  8. EU Parliament interpreters stage strike

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us