Opinion: The Failure of the Paris Agreement Predicts the Failure of the other Treaties

Environmental agreements have no meaning or future if they do not address the problem that the livestock industry produces for the environment .

Cattle behind a fence

Why doesn’t the Paris Agreement take into account the damage done by the livestock industry? Photo: Pixabay, LatinAmerican Post

LatinAmerican Post | Vanesa López Romero

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Leer en español: Opinión: El fracaso del Acuerdo de Paris solo anuncia el fracaso de los acuerdos medioambientales

The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently announced that by 2023, greenhouse gas emissions will reach a record high . This would happen due to the failure of ecological recovery, a measure in recent decades that has been hampered by the juggling of governments and companies to avoid changing laws and production processes. Likewise, the record scope means the failure of the Paris Agreement, hampered in turn by the lack of commitment of the signatory countries and the slowness with which the points that supposedly would prevent an increase in global temperature by 2050 have been put into practice.

The failure of the Paris Agreement

Since its inception in 2015, the Paris Agreement has had to navigate bump after bump. The slowness for countries to come together and sign, the slow pace of negotiations, and the United States' exit from the Accord in 2017 have been just some of the most problematic. But without a doubt, the biggest obstacle has been COVID-19. The Agreement entered into force in 2020, the year in which quarantines due to the Coronavirus pandemic also began.

This involved two factors. First, global concern focused on the virus and its consequences , leaving the importance of the implementation of the Agreement on a very distant level. Second, the quarantines meant a reduction in global emissions, leading a few to believe that ecological restoration would be more easily achieved; a false light of hope , because the quarantines also meant a fall in the global economy, and in turn the economic recovery took over the ecological one. The reactivation became more important for the governments.

Also read: Economic Recovery Threatens the Environment

However, at the end of 2020 and with the election of Joe Biden as president of the United States, there was a glimmer of hope, as the new president made the world power (one of the countries that generates the most emissions) rejoin the Agreement. Also, on his agenda, the environment and the reduction of emissions was a priority . We saw it on paper, but in real life we have encountered a reduction in funding for environmental projects and, again, a slow and clumsy process to make this happen.

But an important point still needs to be addressed: neither the Paris Agreement, nor the national climate action plans (which each of the signatory countries are supposed to implement) does, the food industry take into account .

Livestock remains untouchable

The steps that have been taken since the environmental crisis was recognized are great. Going from ignoring climate change to being one of the most recurrent concerns today both in the civil community and in national entities is very important. Likewise, we cannot ignore the fact that the environmental agreements that are being made little by little around the world are a very important first step .

But just as decades ago the oil industry was untouchable, today the livestock industry remains so. Although today the oil industry is pointed with the finger, from behind it continues to play to get its way. For its part, the livestock industry has a privileged place, as the civil community will be outraged if they mess with their diet, which, in fact, generates the vast majority of global emissions .

And that is precisely the problem, that the livestock industry has been untouchable for decades because the consumer loves the taste of meat too much, and their instant pleasure is worth much more than stopping for a moment to think about where that piece of meat comes from and what it implies for entire communities , for the future of humanity and for the planet.

The fact that these environmental agreements deal with all the issues and all the edges of the problem, but that they ignore the global diet, shows that their failure is not only due to obstruction and the slowness that they imply due to mere bureaucracy, but also because the civil community. The individual, little or nothing is interested in generating a change that goes beyond their personal pleasure.

It is necessary that livestock be addressed, it is necessary to create pedagogy that explains why a piece of meat in a hamburger consumes much more water, causes 41% of global deforestation, and produces 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Sure, we are going to talk about individual decisions, but those individual decisions literally affect and endanger the lives of hundreds of species, including humans. Those who are directly affected today are the less privileged communities, the indigenous groups that lose their homes due to deforestation to create cattle land, the small towns that, ironically, have nothing to eat. But in the future, when all environmental agreements have failed in their attempt to save what little we have left, the livestock industry will not feed us either.

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