Bioenergy isn’t a cure-all for excessive meat production and food waste

29th May 20 by Martin Bowman

Feedback responds to measures in the EU's Covid-19 recovery package.

In reaction to the European Commission’s announcement today of the EU Recovery Package – leaked version available here – and the related Farm to Fork strategy. Martin Bowman, Senior Policy and Campaigns Manager for Feedback, said:

“We are extremely disappointed to see that the Commission has removed any concrete measures for dietary shifts away from meat and dairy, and leaves in its place grossly inadequate tech fixes like installing anaerobic digestion (AD) plants on farms to avoid some methane emissions.

“Feedback’s ground-breaking research (forthcoming) has found that at best, AD plants mitigate a fraction of the methane emissions of manure, when shifts to plant-based diets would remove the manure (and other livestock emissions) completely. At worst, there is evidence that AD subsidies actively incentivise the expansion of factory farms – bringing down the costs and difficulties of manure disposal, and helping factory farms gain planning permission. AD plants also usually require large volumes of maize or grass to be co-digested alongside manure, which eats up valuable land which could be used to grow food or plant trees for carbon sequestration.

“Feedback’s research shows that shifts away from meat-heavy diets and food waste prevention, with tree-planting on the land saved, are far more effective means of saving emissions than anaerobic digestion. The EU currently spends 18-20% of its entire budget supporting the environmentally destructive livestock industry – this is incompatible with its commitments under the Paris Agreement, and must be urgently rectified, with a just transition for farmers into plant-based protein production and nature restoration.”


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