As the contribution from animal agriculture to the global climate crisis is beginning to be taken seriously by politicians, many lobbyists from the animal agriculture industry have turned out in record numbers at Cop28, the 2023 UN conference about climate change. Three times as many delegates representing the meat and dairy industry as last year arrived in Dubai trying to prevent delegates from advising on measures that could solve the global crisis by replacing animal agriculture with plant-based agriculture.

Representatives of companies such as the meat supplier JBS, the fertiliser giant Nutrien, the food giant Nestlé and the pesticide company Bayer are among such lobbyists. Meat and dairy have 120 delegates, but according to DeSmog the number of lobbyists representing the interests of agribusiness more broadly has more than doubled since 2022 to reach 340.

Ben Lilliston, of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, said to The Guardian, “With greater scrutiny over emissions from meat and dairy companies, it is not surprising they are stepping up their game to head off any Cop outcome that might hinder their operations. Even so, a tripling of delegates is alarming – it drives home the urgent need for reforms that limit corporate influence at UN climate meetings.”

Being animal agriculture one of the major contributors to the climate crisis, with the dairy industry’s 3.4% contribution to global human-induced emissions being a higher share than aviation, it is surprising that not until the 28th UN summit aimed to find solutions this issue is beginning to be addressed, which explains why the industry is worried and is sending so many lobbyists. Although this may be worrying as they could stop any significant progress, if the issue had not been even discussed as in most previous COPS this would have been much worse. 

Raj Patel, of the sustainability thinktank IPES-Food, said, “Just as with the influx of oil lobbyists, industrial agriculture businesses are scared. They have read the science and they know how much their business has driven the climate crisis.”

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.