Rep. Mike Flood (R-Neb.) is joining those speaking out against a highly anticipated United Nations advisory that’s expected to expand calls for reduced meat consumption across western nations.
The U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP28) convened in Dubai on Thursday and is set to run until Dec. 12, with participants discussing a number of strategies to address climate change and other environmental topics. Coinciding with the summit, the U.N.’s Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) is expected to release its roadmap for sustainable food production.
The FAO’s roadmap is expected to continue asserting a link between livestock and growing carbon emissions, and to recommend curbs on meat production and consumption. But some meat industry supporters are pushing back, including Mr. Flood.
“As a Nebraskan, from the largest beef-producing state in the nation, this would just economically—it would eliminate jobs, wipe out farms, ranches, and feed that all underpin rural communities and our way of life,” the congressman told NTD’s “Capitol Report” on Friday.
Ahead of COP28, the Global Meat Alliance (GMA) began preparing its members and supporters to push back on efforts to constrain meat production. The GMA’s effort is bolstered by the world’s largest meat company, JBS, as well as other industry members like the Global Dairy Platform and the North American Meat Institute.
For the most part, Mr. Flood said these meat industry leaders like JBS “can make this case better than I can,” but insisted on speaking out regardless, as the meat industry presents a key issue for his home state.
“I don’t understand this. We have to find ways to feed the world. And Nebraska has been doing that since before we were even a state. As a territory, the Native Americans were eating buffalo meat. I mean, this just doesn’t make sense. And I’m not surprised it’s happening at this summit. And I hope that JBS rings the bell and tells our story,” he said.
The Republican lawmaker said members of the global community pushing for the United States and other western nations to cut their meat consumption aren’t doing enough to account for the nutritional needs of these nations, or the economic impacts of such a shift.
“They’re not talking about how this would harm America’s food security, how it would harm our economy,” Mr. Flood said.
Data recorded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2019 found that the meat industry accounts for about 527,000 jobs.
Congressman Points to China for Environmental Answers
Rather than going after meat production as a means of driving down carbon emissions, Mr. Flood argued that the international community should look more closely at China’s carbon emissions and how these policies would alter the balance of power between the United States and China.
“China does what’s in China’s best interest, and that is to operate in such a way that works to tear down the United States and reduce our authority as the world’s sole superpower. And so when it comes to their emissions, and how they produce food, and then their industries, I have no confidence that they’re going to do what’s right for the world, or for their country, or for their people,” Mr. Flood said.
According to global emissions data collected by the European Union’s Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR), China was the country with the largest carbon footprint in 2022. EDGAR data indicates China’s population produced the equivalent of about 15.68 billion metric tons of CO2. The United States’ carbon footprint ranked second, with the equivalent of about 6 billion tons of CO2 in 2022.
With a population of 1.4 billion people in China and about 336 million people in the United States, the people of China produce less carbon emissions on a per-capita basis than the people of the United States. EDGAR data found the average person in China produced the equivalent of 10.9 tons of CO2 in 2022, while the average person in the United States produced about 17.9 tons of CO2. On the other hand, EDGAR data indicates individual carbon footprints have been growing at a faster rate in China than in the United States in recent years. U.S. consumers have reduced their carbon footprint by about 2 percent since 1990, while Chinese consumers have increased their carbon footprint by about 285 percent since 1990.