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Climate change, sustainability and animal welfare: What are the solutions?

Sentience Topic: Behaviour Guest: Dr Tara Garnett and Professor Jonathan Rushton  Date: 15 Jan 2015  
Global Issue: Agriculture, Sustainability

Join us on the 15th January 2014 at 2pm (UK time)

Livestock production is responsible for a large proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, livestock related gas emissions are expected to increase rapidly in coming years if no action is taken. Some propose that further intensification of animal production, in order to increase yield per animal, is the answer to reducing gas emissions. However, many argue that this is unethical and is not a solution. Some suggest that organic farming is the way forward; for instance organic farming of sheep and pigs uses less energy than non-organic farming. In contrast when meat chickens are reared in free-range and organic systems they produce higher levels of gas emissions as they tend to live longer compared to in factory farms. In regards to good animal welfare, and the consideration of animal sentience in agriculture, intensive systems are not the answer; organic and free range systems are. The physical and psychological needs of animals kept in intensive systems simply cannot be met.

What is the solution? Can we rear animals in a way which reduces their current impact on the environment but at the same time ensure they have good welfare, and a good quality of life? Is there a way of reducing gas emissions and other environmental damage which offers farmers and consumers a way of producing animals that respects animal welfare, considers animal sentience and the environment?

Dr Tara Garnett, Food Climate Research Network, and Professor Jonathan Rushton, Production and Population Health department, Royal Veterinary College, will share their expertise on the challenges of reducing global gas emissions, environmental damage and improving animal welfare standards.

Once the discussion starts please post your questions/comments below for Tara and Jonathan to answer. Alternatively send your questions to sentience@worldanimalprotection.org in advance. Our panellists will answer your questions live on the web!

Did you know?

Behavioural and neurophysiological evidence suggests that rats experience regret when they make the wrong decision. Steiner, A.P and Redish, A.D. (2014). Nature Neuroscience