A new survey by Changing Markets Foundation finds that the meat and dairy sector must cut methane emissions to tackle climate change or face lost profits.
A new report from the Changing Markets Foundation warns that profits are at risk if investors do not engage with the meat and dairy industry to cut methane emissions and other climate pollutants.
Over 200 respondents from the investment community participated in the research commissioned by the Changing Markets Foundation, which found that climate change poses a material risk to meat and dairy investments.
84% of respondents feel that a lack of climate mitigation could lead to stranded assets in the sector.
Livestock agriculture is the single largest source of methane, responsible for around 32% of anthropogenic methane emissions.
Furthermore, approximately 37% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) are attributed to food production, especially meat and dairy.
The production of red meat and dairy is projected to grow by over 50% over the next three decades.
This growth, however, may not be feasible if climate change continues on its current course since meat and dairy production is uniquely dependent on the stable climate conditions that GHG emissions are poised to deteriorate.
Climate scientists expect a decline in livestock of 7-10% even under a 2°C warming scenario by 2050, with economic losses between $9.7 and $12.6 billion.
Currently, the world is on a path to a 3˚C temperature increase, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warning that efforts to cut greenhouse gases must be accelerated.
In addition, scientists are calling for rapid cuts of the potent greenhouse gas methane, which continues to accumulate in the atmosphere even faster than CO2.
“We are currently at a crucial crossroads that will determine the future of food production for decades to come,” Nusa Urbancic, campaigns director at Changing Markets Foundation said.
“Despite the majority of investors believing that climate change presents a material risk to meat and dairy industry-related investment, it is concerning that more than half also said that investors are not sufficiently addressing those risks.
“The alarming effects on the sector multiply the hotter the planet gets.
“Farmers across the globe are already feeling the pain and we need rapid action to break this vicious cycle.”
A large majority of investors (94%) believe that reducing carbon emissions alongside methane emissions is important, with 39% stating that this is critically important.
Almost three-quarters (72%) of investors think that companies should be reporting their methane emissions, while 83% believe that investors should encourage companies to reduce their methane emissions.
According to Changing Markets Foundation’s previous study, Blindspot, the biggest meat and dairy companies do not report methane emissions nor do they have plans to cut back on methane emissions.
Over 110 countries have signed up for the Global Methane Pledge, launched at COP26, through which they committed to reducing methane emissions by 30% by 2030 compared to the 2020 baseline.
Earlier this year, Upfield, a food production company focusing on plant-based food, became the first food company to start reporting its methane emissions.
Methane accounts for 7.5% of Upfeild’s greenhouse gas emissions, with dairy ingredients being the main contributor.
“It’s clear there needs to be a far greater focus on methane emissions,” Peter Elwin, director of fixed income & head of food & land use programme at Planet Tracker said.
“The Global Methane Pledge is a step in the right direction, but more still needs to be done, and faster.
“Investors must pressure companies to reduce methane emissions to help meet global climate goals.”
The report calls on investors to take action through their engagement with companies.
It demands transparency and disclosure of companies’ emissions and investments as well as rapid action to address the climate emergency by cutting methane and other climate pollutants in the sector in line with the science.
The full report can be found here.