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For years, climate campaigners have targeted the financial sector for bankrolling the fossil fuel industry. Next up: the $1.4-trillion meat industry.
Money makes the world go round, as the saying goes, but follow its flow and you’ll often end up at the door of a company responsible for causing and accelerating planetary-scale destruction. In March this year, a report by NGOs revealed that 35 banks have handed trillions of dollars to the fossil fuel industry since the Paris Agreement was signed. Now, a new report by UK-based organization Feedback shows that the world’s largest meat and dairy companies have also received billions from financial firms in the past five years, despite warnings from scientists that consumption of animal products must be drastically reduced to protect the environment and the climate.
For years, climate campaigners have targeted the financial sector—banks, investors, insurers, and pension funds—for bankrolling the fossil fuel industry. The fossil fuel divestment movement has made a huge impact, having now secured divestment commitments from universities, churches, and other institutional investors with combined assets worth $14 trillion. It has made oil executives shake in their boots, describing divestment as a “material risk” to their business. Off the back of financial research by NGOs, numerous campaigns have sprung up to pressure financial institutions to stop funding fossil fuels.
With many of the same culprits pumping money into agribusinesses, and clear connections between the meat and fossil fuel industries—including their shared exacerbation of climate breakdown, ecological collapse, and environmental injustice—it’s time for climate finance campaigners to expand their scope beyond fossil fuels.
The common ground between meat and fossil fuels
Michael Shank, communications director for Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, recently shared his views in The Hill about how to launch a factory farming divestment movement. He recommends putting the pandemic risk at the forefront: “It’s the human health threat that’ll win the hearts and minds,” he writes. Even if climate messaging needs to take a back seat, there are compelling reasons for climate finance campaigners to stem the flow of money to the meat industry.
Animal agriculture is a major driver of deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions, and its contribution to climate breakdown is clear. But the ways in which agriculture relies on the fossil fuel industry are discussed less often. Fossil fuels are featured in the entirety of the meat supply chain, powering machinery, transportation, processing, and packaging. The fertilizers and pesticides that industrial agriculture depends on are made using fossil fuels; producing them is both energy-intensive and polluting. There is…
Read More: It’s Time for Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaigners to Take on the Meat Industry