Restricting Factory Farming Urged as Key Climate Solution at COP28

Environmental charity highlights the significant role of factory farming in global emissions and calls for action at the COP28 climate talks in Dubai.

As the COP28 climate talks kick off in Dubai, the focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from “food systems” has taken center stage. A new report by World Animal Protection reveals that factory farming alone is responsible for at least 11% of global emissions. With around 70% of the 80 billion animals reared for food each year held in factory farm systems, these practices contribute a staggering 6.2 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions annually. Recognizing the urgent need for action, the COP28 presidency of the United Arab Emirates is urging countries to align food production with broader emissions goals and promote agricultural innovation.

The Environmental Impact of Factory Farming

Factory farming has emerged as a significant contributor to climate change, with its environmental impact extending beyond emissions. According to World Animal Protection’s research, factory farming from the global north alone has caused approximately $8 billion in damage from recent extreme weather events in Asia, Africa, and South America. The charity’s report highlights the urgent need for a 10-year moratorium on new factory farms and calls for countries to redirect subsidies towards more sustainable livestock and plant-based food production. It also emphasizes the responsibility of industrial farming conglomerates to contribute more to climate loss and damage funds.

Food Systems and Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Food systems as a whole account for about a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, with animal agriculture specifically responsible for a fifth of these emissions. The charity’s analysis of over 400 attribution studies underscores the significant role of food production in exacerbating climate change. This finding reinforces the importance of including food systems in countries’ nationally determined contributions and national adaptation plans, as outlined in the leaders’ declaration encouraged by the COP28 presidency.

The Role of Food Production in Tackling Fossil Fuels

While some may view the focus on food systems as a diversion from the primary task of addressing fossil fuels, the numbers speak for themselves. Food systems account for approximately 15% of global fossil fuel consumption. David Garrahy, the external affairs manager at World Animal Protection, asserts that ending reliance on fossil fuels necessitates addressing the impact of food production. He argues that food systems are not a distraction but rather an integral part of achieving the goals set out in the Paris Agreement.


As the COP28 climate talks commence, the urgent need to address the impact of food production on climate change cannot be ignored. Factory farming, responsible for a significant portion of global emissions, demands immediate action. The leaders’ declaration and initiatives spearheaded by the COP28 presidency aim to align food production with emissions goals and promote sustainable agriculture. By implementing a moratorium on new factory farms, redirecting subsidies, and holding industrial farming conglomerates accountable, countries can make significant strides in reducing emissions and mitigating climate loss and damage. Recognizing the interconnectedness of food systems and fossil fuel consumption is crucial to achieving a sustainable future as outlined in the Paris Agreement.






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