Cornwall Council To Immediately Address The Environmental Impact of Animal Agriculture.
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AN OPEN LETTER TO CORNWALL COUNCIL COUNCIL.
In reference to your published plans: https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/council-news-room/media-releases/news-from-2019/news-from-june-2019/share-your-ideas-on-combating-climate-change-at-royal-cornwall-show/
Having recently read your plans to make Cornwall carbon neutral by 2030, we were shocked and disappointed to discover that animal agriculture was mentioned only in passing.
Cornwall Council has chosen five main areas to focus on: “transport, housing, energy, the environment and waste.” Cornwall Council seems to have made a conscious decision to decline to take immediate steps to reduce the massive environmental damage caused by animal agriculture and our diets.
It is clear that animal agriculture is one of *the* leading causes of climate change. The evidence for this is abundant, and the argument is championed by the scientific community. Here are some facts to take into account:
1. In March of 2019, 21,000 scientists from around the world signed an article in the Journal of Bioscience entitled “World Scientists’ Warning To Humanity: A Second Notice” and warned that we *must* move away from meat and dairy in order to avoid a global environmental catastrophe.
2. In 2018, the biggest ever food production analysis, undertaken by Oxford University researcher Joseph Poore and published in the journal Science, stated that switching to plant-based diets is probably "the single biggest way to reduce (our) impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use.”
3. The United Nations is backing a shift away from animal agriculture, and at the end of 2018 it named tackling meat consumption as the world’s “most urgent problem”, stating that “our use of animals as a food production technology has brought us to the verge of catastrophe (…) the greenhouse gas footprint of animal agriculture rivals that of every car, truck, bus, ship, airplane, and rocket ship combined. There is no pathway to achieve the Paris climate objectives without a massive decrease in the scale of animal agriculture.”
4. It has been established that animal agriculture is responsible for at least (as a very conservative estimate) 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Some estimates put the figure much higher.
5. Animal agriculture is notoriously inefficient due to land and water use and the grain required to feed livestock. It has been estimated that 2,500 gallons of water are required to produce 1 pound of beef. In terms of land use, it has been estimated that 1.5 acres of land could produce 375lbs of meat or 37,000lbs of plant foods. According to the BBC, dairy milk produces 0.6kg of emissions and requires 120 litres of water for one single glass of dairy milk. In contrast, oat milk produces 0.2kg of emissions and requires just 10 litres of water for one glass of oat milk.
6. It is established that a person who cuts out meat and dairy reduces their carbon footprint by at least 50%, with a report by the Oxford University putting the figure at 73%.
7. In terms of our oceans, a report by scientists for the organisation Ocean Cleanup estimated that discarded fishing nets account for 46 percent of all ocean plastic. Australian scientists Denise Hardesty and Chris Wilcox, meanwhile, estimate that plastic straws make up only 0.3% of ocean plastic. It has also be stated by many scientists that we are on track for fishless oceans by 2048. It seems clear that the most straightforward and effective way to save our oceans is to stop eating fish. Too much focus on plastic straws is a distraction from the main issue.
More and more national press is covering these sorts of stories. See, for example, the articles of George Monbiot of The Guardian newspaper: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/08/save-planet-meat-dairy-livestock-food-free-range-steak.
Similar articles are now published on regular basis in The Metro, The Independent, The Guardian, and other major newspapers.
All of this being taken into account, we believe that Cornwall Council has chosen to pursue relatively ineffective measures and will not achieve its carbon neutral target by doing so. We also believe that Cornwall Council is effectively passing the buck by choosing to "consult the public" about what we should be doing to prevent climate destruction when the great "hidden" secret of environmental catastrophe has been communicated by scientists for decades.
If Cornwall Council is serious about making Cornwall carbon neutral by 2030, it must be prepared to make serious changes. Cornwall Council should not brush the issue of the environmental impact of animal agriculture under the carpet, because this issue will not go away. More and more people are becoming aware of the environmental impact of their diets and demanding change from national and local government.
Some practical suggestions for change could - and we believe should - include:
- Introducing Meat & Dairy Free Mondays in schools and hospitals with a view to increasing this to more than one day per week over the next couple of years.
- Encouraging local farmers to switch away from animal agriculture to the production of plant-based foods; providing financial assistance and the means to do so.
- Educating the public about how their diets impact on the environment through educational awareness campaigns.
- Implementing changes to school curricula.
There is, right now, a real chance for genuine change. Cornwall Council has the potential to transform Cornwall into a hub for new plant-based foods (which are undoubtedly the future of global diets). Cornwall Council also has the opportunity to become a shining light for genuine environmental top-down change.
We believe that Cornwall can become the envy of other county councils across the U.K, all of whom will fail to meet their targets unless they are willing to address diet and agriculture.
This massive potential for change won’t be achieved by asking the public to recycle more, turn off their lights, reduce the length of their car journeys, or plant trees. It will be achieved by a much more ambitious, far-reaching vision.
Council Council now has the opportunity to implement this vision or ignore it.
The planet and the people of tomorrow are counting on you. Please don’t let them down.
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