Livestock and Climate Justice: Challenging Mainstream Policy Narratives

Journal Article
  • Published 28/10/21

by Fernando García-Dory, Ella Houzer and Ian Scoones
IDS Bulletin article

In discussions around food systems and the climate, livestock is often painted as the villain. While some livestock production in some places contributes significantly to climate change, this is not universally the case. This article focuses on pastoral production systems – extensive, often mobile systems using marginal rangelands across around half of the world’s surface, involving many millions of people. By examining the assumptions behind standard calculations of greenhouse gas emissions, a systematic bias against pastoralism is revealed. Many policy and campaign stances fail to discriminate between different material conditions of production, lumping all livestock systems together. Injustices arise through the framing of debates and policy knowledge; through procedures that exclude certain people and perspectives; and through the distributional consequences of policies. In all cases, extensive livestock keepers lose out. In reflecting on the implications for European pastoralism, an alternative approach is explored where pastoralists’ knowledge, practices and organisations take centre‑stage.

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