Nationality: United States

Country of Residence: United States

Current Position: Environment and Climate Specialist for Humane Society International (HSI)

How did you get to the role you are in today and what advice would you give aspiring climate champions?

I have long been an advocate on behalf of environmental and animal welfare issues. I have a background as an attorney, and prior to this position I litigated on behalf of animals. At the same time, I held on to my passion for environmental protection. As I got more interested in climate change, I found this position (with HSI) that blended both major interests of mine. I’m proud to be part of an organisation
which aims to improve the treatment of animals whilst helping to prevent environmental damage at the same time. My advice to others is to follow your passion. Volunteer opportunities, locally and globally, can help you find your niche and discover what further education you might want to pursue.

What impact do multi-stakeholder groups, such as Climate Action Network (CAN), have within the international processes on climate change?

As NGOs, we have to make the greatest impact possible with limited resources, and CAN-International, which is comprised of over 700 NGOs worldwide, is an incredible chance to pool collective knowledge and work towards civil society climate goals. Not only is CAN-International an incredible resource and help in capacity building, it serves as a respected NGO voice that climate change negotiators take seriously.

What is the relevance of animal welfare and farming to the climate negotiations?

How farm animals are raised and treated can have important repercussions for both welfare and environmental sustainability, food security and the economic well-being of farmers. The animal agriculture sector, which raised more than 70 billion land animals in 2010, is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, responsible for an estimated 18% of human-induced emissions and is projected to grow to 39% by 2050. While this is disrupting weather, temperature, and ecosystem health, there is also a threat of death to farm animals from heat stress and drought. Many of these 70 billion animals spend virtually their entire lives in tiny cages and crates, and industrial systems now produce approximately two-thirds of the world’s poultry meat and eggs, and more than half of all pork.

We cannot view climate change solutions in a vacuum, particularly in the case of agriculture. That is why we need comprehensive solutions that provide multiple co-benefits. For example, by supporting small-scale producers with high-animal welfare, sustainable farm systems.

What are the priorities for action on livestock and agriculture at COP 18?

Establishing a food secure, sustainable and animal welfare-friendly future requires immediate changes in farm animal production and consumption patterns which address the drivers of agricultural emissions. In Doha, the COP should call for a series of Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) stakeholder workshops and invite further submissions on agriculture from Parties and observers. This work should be broad based and go towards long-term policy and finance that improves food security and long-term sustainability, enhances the ability of farmers and farming systems to adapt to climate change, mitigates emissions, and improves animal welfare.

In addition, deforestation and forest degradation, of which animal agriculture—for grazing and feedcrop production—is a significant driver, destroy carbon sinks in addition to releasing billions of metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. REDD+ must address the drivers of deforestation to be successful, and SBSTA should work more quickly towards this goal than it has thus far.

What are your aims within your role for 2013 and beyond?

We must work comprehensively towards a more sustainable, food secure, and animal-welfare-friendly agricultural landscape. And we shouldn’t forget the role that individuals can have on the climate and environment, especially concerning food choices. Governments and civil society should raise awareness of animal welfare issues and have meaningful discussions with constituents about adoption of programs and approaches that reflect the health, climate, and environmental benefits of reducing meat, egg, and milk consumption, particularly among those in developed nations and amongst higher-income urban consumers in mid-income nations.

Favourite quote:

“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.” – Albert Schweitzer.