Forest fire

Factory farms contribute at least 11% of emissions causing climate disasters, new report shows

Press release

World Animal Protection is today publishing research showing how cruel factory farming contributes at least 11% of the global greenhouse gases fuelling climate change.

  • Research by World Animal Protection details financial impact of intensive animal agriculture on Global South
  • Charity calls on COP28 to direct adaptation, loss and damage finance towards hardest hit smallholder farmers

The international charity’s How Factory Farming Emissions are Worsening Climate Disasters in the Global South report also details how intensive animal agriculture is impacting small-holder farming, which contributes to the livelihoods and food security of 1.7 billion people.

The report finds the Global North’s factory farms are responsible for US$8.65 billion worth of damage across recent disasters in Africa, Asia and South America.

By 2050, the economic costs associated with climate driven disasters globally could exceed US$1 trillion annually as the impacts of climate change intensify.

Our research finds factory farms could be liable for over US$100 billion of that cost

A resource-intensive business, factory farming releases a large proportion of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, worsening heat waves, wildfires, floods and droughts. Swathes of wild habitat are destroyed to plant crops for animal feed, killing wild species and releasing more carbon, and the journey from factory farm to dinner plate pumps around six trillion tons of emissions into the atmosphere.

Billions of caged animals in factory farms are subjected to unimaginable cruelty. To stave off diseases which fester in the cramped conditions, they are dosed with antibiotics, fuelling the spike in AMR superbugs. Pigs, cattle and chickens are painfully mutilated and are bred to grow fast for profit, suffering debilitating injuries in the process.

These unethical and unsustainable practices are perpetuated by the world’s biggest meat producers who are reaping record profits at the expense of vulnerable communities, animals and the environment. In the US, just four large conglomerates - Tyson, JBS, Marfrig, and Seaboard - control approximately 55-85% of the US market for pork, beef, and chicken. Their gross profits have collectively increased by more than 120% since before the COVID-19 pandemic, and their net income has surged by 500%[i].

The world’s biggest meat producer, Brazil-based JBS - which is widely condemned for accelerating deforestation - recently announced a record $72.6 billion in global net revenue.

Factory farming is set to surge in the Global South

Driven by an expected 30% rise in meat demand in Africa (from a low base), 18% in Asia Pacific and 12% in Latin America by 2030. This will not only increase factory farming emissions and contribute to worsening climate related disasters – but also replace the sustainable, agroecological pastoralists and their diversified independent farming systems.

African countries will have to spend US$53 billion annually by 2030 to adapt to the climate crisis, the report details.

To address their significant culpability in climate change, World Animal Protection is calling for governments at COP28 to impose a 10-year moratorium on new factory farm approvals and halt this flawed food system’s rapid global expansion. It also calls for finance for adaptation and loss and damage to be directed towards smallholder farmers in the developing world.

Steve McIvor, World Animal Protection CEO, said:

As our report details, animal cruelty and climate change are interlinked. Until we get rid of animal cruelty in farming, climate change will worsen. Factory farming poses a core obstacle in achieving the targets laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement and casts a dark shadow over the prospect of a climate-safe future. Factory farming not only causes suffering to billions of animals and the destruction of wild habitats. It is undermining food security for communities around the world. Land that could be used to grow crops for humans or to protect wildlife, is instead used to plant crops to feed factory farmed animals. It’s simply a wasteful, destructive food chain.

Kelly Dent, World Animal Protection’s Director of External Engagement, said:

World leaders must act meaningfully at COP28. The factory farming industry must be held accountable by governments and finance must be directed to the Global South communities on the front line of climate change. COP28 must take action to shore up a humane and sustainable food supply, with governments withdrawing subsidies for industrial meat and dairy and redirecting them to plant-based foods in ways that support small scale farmers. Animals remaining on factory farms should be spared the worst forms of suffering.

The report is accompanied by an exclusive film which will premiere at COP28 on Saturday 2nd December.

Read the full report

Read the report (short version)

Read the Spanish report

Notes to Editors

For more information and to arrange interviews please contact Global Media Manager, Peter Simpson

  • Media representatives attending COP28 can attend the launch of the film and panel discussion about the report findings on Saturday, December 2nd at 16:45pm Dubai time with an RSVP here. The event will also be live streamed here.
  • At COP28, an Emirates Leaders’ Declaration on Resilient Food Systems, Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Action is expected. This is an initiative of the UAE presidency of COP28 that is advocating for governments to integrate food and agriculture into national plans to address climate mitigation and adaptation.
  • G20 countries, the majority of whom are in the Global North, produce around 81% of overall global greenhouse emissions, whereas Africa accounts for less than 4%.

About World Animal Protection

World Animal Protection is the global voice for animal welfare, with more than 70 years’ experience campaigning for a world where animals live free from cruelty and suffering.

We have offices in 12 countries and work across 47 countries. We collaborate with local communities, the private sector, civil society and governments to change animals’ lives for the better.

Our goal is to change the way the world works to end animal cruelty and suffering for both wild and farmed animals. Through our global food system strategy, we will end factory farming and create a humane and sustainable food system, that puts animals first. By transforming the broken systems that fuel exploitation and commodification, we will give wild animals the right to a wild life. Our work to protect animals will play a vital role in solving the climate emergency, the public health crisis and the devastation of natural habitats.

Together, we will change the way the world works, to end animal cruelty and suffering. Forever.


    [1]OECD/FAO. 2021. OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook (Edition 2021). OECD Agriculture Statistics (database),
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