BY DR. FAAZIL BASHIR RATHER
Globally, climate change has become a hot topic and is seen as a major threat to the survival of many species, peoples’ livelihoods, ecosystems and the sustainability of livestock production systems. No doubt animal based food industry is one of the contributors to green house gas (GHG) emissions and climate change.
Several scientific studies have provided evidence that increasing concentration of GHGs have resulted in global warming and livestock are frequently demonized as the enemy.
With the growing population and economic development, our country is among the top seven GHG emitters in the world, but per capita emission remains far below than the world average at 2.4t CO2e.
On the one hand, the demand for animal protein is expected to grow with increased prosperity, especially in emerging economies.
As per conservative estimates, worldwide as many as 828 million people go to bed hungry every night, the number of those facing acute food insecurity has soared from 135 million to 345 million, since 2019.
The world is at a crossroads, wherein climate shocks and food security crisis are a reality. For addressing the situation, we need to adapt and innovate. For this the animal production systems, need to be more resilient, eco-friendly, sustainable and equitable for the future.
Among the range of key decisions of Paris targets, climate finance, is the key focus and the same is expected to prove beneficial in fighting environmental crisis at the pace the world demands today.
Achieving the target of limiting global warming, SDGs and net-zero emissions requires a combination of policies, incentives and technical supports and coordination of actions across multiple stakeholders.
Directing climate finance to the livestock sector is an opportunity to mitigate climate change, improve adaptation and increase economic gains along the animal protein supply chain.
Climate finance can play a vital role and has the potential to bend the curve of livestock sector emissions, shifting from being a sector that threatens to produce increased emissions and environmental damage, to one that reduces its emissions and makes a larger contribution to sustainable development.
There are innovative and traditional solutions to easing the pressure on the environment from livestock sector, while increasing productivity and serving an ever-growing demand for animal-protein products.
Integrating innovative climate smart animal husbandry practices and climate financing into the livestock production systems shall be vital for reducing carbon foot-prints while maintaining livelihoods and reducing poverty.
Despite its fairly huge potential for mitigating climate crisis, currently less than 1% of climate finance goes into the livestock sector. Injecting climate finance will play a crucial role in the transition towards low-carbon livestock.
Transforming the sector toward a low-carbon and climate resilient development path may take time, but it is possible if sustainable practices are adopted. Scientific evidences suggest that improved livestock management systems can reduce emissions by 20 to 30%, across all production systems.
Adopting the right policies, such as penalizing carbon emissions and rewarding carbon sequestration, have the potential to reduce their net emissions by 89% according to recent studies.
Better integrating livestock into the circular bio-economy for production of clean energy like, production of biogas, biodiesel, etc, which can offer a potential solution for global energy requirements. Improved natural resource use efficiency also helps farmers being more resilient to climate change.
India has emerged as a global climate leadership role, under the leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister by announcing ‘Panchamrit’ and concept of mass movement for ‘LIFE’– ‘Lifestyle for Environment’ as a key to combating climate change, during COP26, is a step towards achieving country’s long term goal of reaching net-zero by 2070.
To achieve green growth there is a need for realignment of the financial systems in order to address the current climate crises. Efforts need to be made for global transformation from a heavily fossil fuel energy dependent economy to a low-carbon behavior.
Introduction of carbon pricing thereby encourage low-carbon investments and lower energy usage, by way of carbon taxes, carbon credits, emission trading schemes, etc, can be a driving factor in reducing GHGs from livestock farms.
Mobilizing financial institutions, all relevant stake-holders, private players, etc, in the same direction for low-carbon transitions and creating new product markets for low-carbon technology, replacing the older, inefficient (fossil fuel-based) technology.
There is need for swift action, innovative ideas, investment in new technologies, new incentives and most importantly, new approaches, to get us to more sustainable world. Acting now will come at a significantly lower cost and help jump-start the transition.
This means introducing practices that increase productivity while reducing GHG emissions from the sector and ensuring protection of the natural environment and public health.
There are substantial opportunities in the livestock sector for investment by climate finance funds that could accelerate the transformation towards low-carbon and sustainable animal protein supply chain.
But, access to finance for climate action in livestock sector is a major challenge due to low investment priority and reluctance of financial institutions.
Global livestock production systems urgently require a gold-standard roadmap to grapple environmental foot-prints whilst protecting the health and livelihoods of people.
Building sustainable animal based food production systems that can feed the world, needs to be a top priority for COP27. The environmental challenges related to the livestock sector will increase in the coming times and it is essential to channel increasing amounts of Climate Finance into the sector to help addressing these bottlenecks and implement mitigation practices.
Further, the anticipated continued growth of demand for animal protein products will also constitute a tremendous opportunity to invest in new sustainable production systems.
Empowering countries to drive their own initiatives, channelizing more innovative climate smart finance and mitigation programmes, shall prove game-changer in achieving climate goals thereby helping in opening doors to much-needed green technologies.
Dr. Faazil Bashir Rather is a Veterinarian and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.