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FOUR PAWS calls for a move to a more sustainable agriculture sector to ensure mitigation of climate change factors

FOUR PAWS urges a reduction of all animal protein consumption and production by 50 percent by 2040

1.6.2022

The animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS urges a reduction of all animal protein consumption and production by 50 percent by 2040. To aid this, FOUR PAWS encourages the government to relook the balance between sustainable agriculture and sustainable development as well as the role of adaption to achieve such a sustainable agriculture sector, sectoral emission targets and carbon budgets.

Fiona Miles, Director of FOUR PAWS in South Africa, commenting in their submission on the proposed Bill on the importance of including the agricultural sector in the country’s long-awaited Climate Change Bill, says the emergence of risks such as changes in rain patterns as well as higher temperatures calls for urgent climate change focused action “to ensure the resilience of a truly sustainable South African agricultural sector.”

The draft legislation was open for public comment until Friday, the 27th of May. The proposed Bill, which is aimed at changes proposed by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, during the Just Transition to a low-carbon economy, was tabled before Parliament in February. This iteration of the Bill was first published for information in October 2021, and an earlier version of the Bill was published in 2018.

She says FOUR PAWS welcomed the tabling of the draft law in February and the call for public comment. The organisation however raises several concerns in their submission.

Among these is that South Africa is increasingly moving away from a free-ranging livestock sector and making use of processed meat which means more and more use of concentrated animal feeding operations. Miles says such intensive farming has many environmental risks including increasing greenhouse gas emissions as well as a high increase in water consumption and land resource use.

She adds that “the proposed Bill at present is not taking this into consideration.”

FOUR PAWS recommends a reduction in livestock numbers. Worldwide more than 77% of agricultural land is used to raise and feed farm animals and animal agriculture is one of the main drivers for the destruction of important areas of biodiversity, which unleashes new pathogens that could cause the next pandemic. She points out that processed feed also isn’t what is best suited to the animals.  

says Fiona Miles, Director of FOUR PAWS in South Africa

She says carbon budgets for livestock operations should also not be skewed by carbon offsets. “For carbon budgets to have a real impact in climate mitigation, they must rely on robust and scientifically-proven accounting systems.”

Miles says the solution is promoting sustainable farming practices through the proposed Bill, while removing financial and non-financial incentives that support high-carbon and otherwise environmentally harmful agricultural practices.

She adds by diverting subsidies and other incentives from intensive farming and towards “sustainable agriculture, diverse and resilient food chains, and small- and medium enterprises, the government can ensure with this Bill a growing population has access to healthy diets within planetary boundaries.” 

It is expected that the Parliamentary Committee on Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment will soon consider these submissions and recommendations to amend the proposed Climate Change Bill and make recommendations to the National Assembly to take the legislative process forward.

“The bill is a key piece of legislation." 

“We urge the government to ensure that the proposed legislation as well as possible amendments according to submissions of stakeholders form a comprehensive legal framework to kickstart as well as complete the Just Transition to a low-carbon future.”

says Fiona Miles, Director of FOUR PAWS in South Africa

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. www.four-paws.org 

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