Reduction of meat consumption bill

Please find our parliamentary bill below. Submitted by the Left Party.

Swedish Parliament
Reduction of Meat Consumption Bill

Jens Holm et al.                2010/11: V205


Contents

1.   Recommendations
2.   Background
3.   Goal: reduced consumption of animal food products
4.   Action plan for reduced consumption
5.   Phase-out of subsidies to the meat industry

6.   Incentives for reduced meat consumption
7.   Vegetarian Mondays

8.   Green public procurement  

 

 

1.    Recommendations

(1)     The Riksdag [Swedish Parliament] hereby notifies the Government that it is in full agreement with the provision of this Parliamentary Bill that a new national goal should be adopted for the reduction of total meat consumption, namely a reduction of 25 per cent from the current total by year 2020.

(2)     The Riksdag hereby notifies the Government that it is in full agreement with the provision of this Bill that an action plan should be developed for the purpose of reducing the climate impact of the entire chain of food production, including animal food products.

 (3)    The Riksdag hereby notifies the Government that it is in full agreement with the provision of this Bill that Sweden should strive for the establishment of a final date for the complete phase-out of subsidies to the meat and dairy industries, which are counterproductive.

 (4)    The Riksdag hereby notifies the Government that it is in full agreement with the provision of this Bill that Sweden should strive to bring about an end to the dumping of surplus food products by the European Union in developing countries.

 (5)    The Riksdag hereby notifies the Government that it is in full agreement with the provision of this Bill that a public inquiry should be established to consider the feasibility of economic incentives for reducing the climate and other environmental impacts of the entire chain of food production, including animal products.

 (6)    The Riksdag hereby notifies the Government that it is in full agreement with the provision of this Bill that the Government should support efforts by Sweden’s municipalities to encourage vegetarian food habits, for example by designating one day of the week as a vegetarian day.

 

2.    Background

         Since the 1950s, worldwide consumption of meat products has increased by over 500 per cent. If nothing is done, meat consumption in 2050 will be twice that of the world total in 1999. According to the FAO report, Livestock’s Long Shadow, the animal food products industry accounts for 18 per cent of total worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases. The Swedish animal food products industry emits roughly 10 million tonnes of greenhouse gases annually, nearly as much as the total from all private cars in Sweden (source: Greenhouse gas emissions from Swedish consumption of meat, milk and eggs 1990 and 2005. SIK Rapport 794/2009, p. 26). According to the same report, emissions from the Swedish animal food products sector increased by 22 per cent between 1990 and 2005. The scientists who authored the report conclude that, if we want a sustainable development of the Earth’s climate, we must eat less meat.

               According to the above-noted FAO report, the livestock sector is one of the biggest causes of declines in biological diversity, as it uses 30 per cent of the Earth’s total land surface and 70 per cent of all agriculture land. The livestock sector is also one of the main reasons for the destruction of tropical forest. Fully 70 per cent of Latin America’s former forest area has been converted to grazing land. Tropical forest is also being destroyed for the cultivation of animal fodder products, not least including soybeans, which are then exported for such purposes as meat production in the European Union.

               At the same time that much of the world is suffering from lack of water, the food production sector is overexploiting water resources. According to FAO, the livestock sector uses over eight per cent of the world’s freshwater resources and accounts for a large portion of their increasing exploitation. Much more water is used for meat production than for the production of vegetable food products. Between 400 and 3000 litres of freshwater are required to produce one kilogram of vegetable products, while the corresponding requirement for a kilogram of poultry meat is 6000 litres and for beef it is 15,000 litres (source: Stockholm International Water Institute, More Nutrition Per Drop, 2004). Thus, it is clear that we should eat more vegetables and less meat in order to conserve water resources.

               By international standards, Sweden is per capita a large consumer of animal food products. Our impact on the climate far exceeds a sustainable level. All sectors of the society must therefore assume responsibility for the global climate. We are certain that the Swedish people are prepared to reduce the climate impact that is related to their food consumption, if they are provided with suitable means to act rationally on behalf of a sustainable climate. According to a 2009 report of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the title of which translates as A Genus Perspective on the General Public’s Knowledge and Attitudes Regarding Climate Change, over half of Swedish citizens are prepared to reduce their meat consumption on behalf of the climate. Among women the figure is 69 per cent, and a significant proportion of them have already reduced their meat consumption. The Riksdag and the Government have a decisive role to play in making it easier for Swedes to continue reducing their climate impact by means of ”climate-smart” eating.

 

3.    Goal: reduced consumption of animal food products

         Meat consumption in Sweden increased by more than 50 per cent from 1990 to 2005. This sharp increase in consumption resulted in greenhouse gas emissions totalling more than 2.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents; but that increase is not reflected in Swedish emission statistics, because it is due to imports of meat products. Emissions per capita increased by over 50 per cent during the same period. The increase in greenhouse gas emissions due to increased Swedish meat consumption in 2005 corresponded to nearly 20 per cent of the total emitted by all Swedish cars during that year (source: Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology, Greenhouse gas emissions from Swedish consumption of meat, milk and eggs, 1990 and 2005. SIK Rapport 794/2009).

               As noted by a Swedish public inquiry on climate issues (Klimatberedningen. SOU 2008:24), there are at present no incentives specifically devised to induce the agricultural sector to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. A responsible approach would be to adopt a national goal of reduced meat consumption. A goal to reduce meat consumption from the current level by 25 per cent no later than year 2020 should therefore be adopted. The Riksdag should notify the Government that it approves the adoption of that goal.

 

4.    Action plan for reduced meat consumption

         In order to attain the goal of 25 per cent reduced meat consumption by 2020, an action plan should be developed for the purpose of reducing the climate impact of the entire chain of food production, including animal products. The Riksdag should notify the Government that it approves the development of such a plan.

 

5.    Phase-out of subsidies to the meat industry

         In a 2007 report of the Left Party, the title of which translates as The Livestock Industry and Climate — The EU Makes Bad Worse, we note that the European Union supports the Swedish meat and dairy industries with ca. SEK 30 billion [ca. EUR 3 billion] annually with so-called interventions and direct subsidies. In addition, the EU provides SEK 400 million [ca. EUR 40 million] to support the marketing of various animal food products in order to increase their sales. Sweden should strive for the establishment of a final date for the complete phase-out of such counterproductive subsidies to the meat and dairy industries. The Riksdag should notify the Government that it approves the establishment of such a deadline.

               Sweden should also strive to bring about an end to the dumping of surplus food products by the European Union in developing countries. The Riksdag should notify the Government that it approves of that objective.

 

6.    Incentives for reduced meat consumption

         Probably the most effective method for reducing the use of something that is harmful is to put a price on it. In a coming edition of the journal Climatic Change, three scientists at Chalmers University of Technology — Fredrik Hedenus, Stefan Wirsenius and Kristina Molin — argue that a tax on animal food products can be an effective method for reducing emissions from the agricultural sector. The Left Party proposes the establishment of a public inquiry into the feasibility of economic incentives for reducing the climate and other environmental impacts of the entire chain of food production, including animal food products. The Riksdag should notify the Government that it approves such a public inquiry.

 

7.    Vegetarian Mondays

         Slightly over a year ago, the Belgian city of Ghent introduced ”Donderdag Veggiedag” — Vegetarian Thursday. Every Thursday in Ghent, vegetarian food is the main alternative in municipal dining facilities, with meat dishes available for those who prefer them. Also provided by the city are large numbers of free maps indicating the locations of vegetarian restaurants. Residents are taught how to prepare vegetarian dishes, and reduced meat consumption is promoted in a variety of ways. This initiative is part of a general effort by Ghent’s political leaders to take all possible measures to reduce the city’s climate impact. Reduced meat consumption is an important part of that effort.

               A growing number of cities around the world are now following Ghent’s example with similar local initiatives for reduced meat consumption. Sao Paulo, San Francisco, Cape Town, Bremen and Helsinki are among the cities whose political leaders have set aside one day of the week for a special focus on vegetarian food. In Sweden, the city of Örebro has introduced a weekly vegetarian day in some of its schools. Several other Swedish cities are preparing similar initiatives. Several grassroots campaigns have been started, two examples being ”Meat-Free Mondays” in Sweden (www.kottfrimandag.se) and the United Kingdom (www.meatfreemondays.co.uk). The Government should support efforts by Sweden’s municipalities to encourage vegetarian food habits, for example by designating one day of the week as a vegetarian day. The Riksdag should notify the Government that it approves of such a policy.

 

8.   Green public procurement

         Annual purchases by the Swedish public sector total approximately SEK 500 billion, and a large portion of that amount is for food. Public sector purchasing provides an excellent means to influence national consumption patterns, and that sector should be encouraged to purchase more fruit and vegetables, less meat.

 

     
Submitted on this date for the Left Party by:

Jens Holm     

Torbjörn Björlund               

Hans Linde                         

Jonas Sjöstedt

Siv Holma

Kent Persson


Stockholm
20 October 2010

Member of Swedish Parliament

The elections are over and almost all the votes are counted. It is now clear: I have been elected Member of the Swedish Parliament. I feel very honoured. I am grateful to everone that has voted for me and the Left Party. Thank you!

I will especially work with issues dealing with climate change, animal rights and global justice.

I feel passionate about working hard for replacing the current neo-liberal government with a red-green. That struggle starts here and now: A new government and new politics, thats what Sweden needs.

Speech at the European Youth Parliament

Today I spoke at the inaguration of the national session of the European Youth Parliament, Sweden. For those who are interested, please read below:

2010-01-29
European Youth Parliament
Viktor Rydbergs gymnasium, Djursholm
Jens Holm (V)

Climate change and the need for a new generation of politicians
It may seem strange to talk about global warming on a day as cold and full of snow as it is today. But today is rather the exception that proves the rule when it comes to global warming.

For just a moment, I would like for us to imagine that we are at an even colder latitude – namely 3000 kilometers to the north west. Imagine an area four times as large as France, permanently cold, with a 3000-meter-thick layer of compact ice…. Welcome to Greenland and the inland ice!

Why am I talking about Greenland? After all, we’re in Sweden. Global warming is happening twice as fast there as in the rest of the world. In Greenland we can see what your future will be like – what you will have to deal with when you’re as old as I am.

I went to Greenland, and the town Ilulissat on the west coast, on a climate expedition in late August 2007. The result was my slide show On Thin Ice, which you can have after today’s session, or watch on You Tube. Near the town of Ilulissat we find the Ilulissat glacier. It’s the world’s biggest glacier. Practically speaking, it’s the inland ice that spreads clear out into the North Atlantic.

The Ilulissat glacier is not only the world’s biggest, it is now also the fastest melting glacier in the world.In a single day, as much fresh water melts from it as the city of New York uses in an entire year. Between 1999 and 2005 the release of icebergs increased by 40 percent. The glacier is sinking by 15 meters per year because of global warming. I was able to see with my own eyes how giant icebergs hundreds of meters high broke into smaller pieces and headed out to sea.

The Ilulissat glacier is not an isolated incident. Between 1990 and 2000, the melting of Greenland’s inland ice doubled. More and more of Greenland’s glaciers are now moving at such speeds that many researchers now say the “ketchup effect” has already started: the glaciers function as big holes that the inland ice leaks out through faster and faster.

What the result of this can be is already known: If the entire Greenland ice melts away, sea levels will rise by seven meters. Recent research indicates that the melting of the Greenland ice may go much faster than earlier believed. It may happen already during your lifetime.

What is happening on Greenland is only one example of what we call global warming created by our continually increasing emissions. The United States’ space agency, NASA, reported last week that the past ten years has been the warmest decade in history.

The effects of this increase in temperature have been quick to be seen. Entire nations in the South Pacific are being flooded by the, so far, limited rise in sea levels. Imagine what a seven meter rise would lead to: big citys and whole nations would disappear.In poor countries people struggle, literally, for survival, while the effects on a rich country like Sweden are a lot less. According to Global Humanitarian Forum, the former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan’s institution, 300,000 people per year die earlier because of global warming, and 300 million are affected, almost exclusively in poor countries. This is not fair. It is we in the rich world who have caused the climate change. Nearly 80 percent of historical emissions come from the rich world, and only a small part from the poor. In Sweden, we release about six tons of carbon dioxide per person every year. The EU average is ten tons. In Bangladesh, on the other hand, it is only 0.2 tons. That’s how big the difference is between rich Europe and a poor country. In other words, in well-off Europe CO2 releases are 50 times as much as in a poor country like Bangladesh.

Climate change is not only about the environment, but also an issue of North versus South. The solution is global justice and large reductions in emissions.

The climate conference in Copenhagen last December was supposed to come up with solutions to these issues. But that didn’t happen. Without a binding agreement on reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses, the world has been left with a dangerous gamble on our future. I hold the rich world’s leaders responsible for this. They were the ones who couldn’t promise the needed reductions and a change in our lifestyle.

But it was exciting to see the very enthusiastic participation of ordinary people in Copenhagen. On the Saturday before the end of the summit meeting, I demonstrated along with 100,000 other enthusiastic citizens of the world. This was probably the largest demonstration against climate change ever. And you can easily see that a new global movement was born in Copenhagen: a movement for defense of the climate and global justice.

This is where you come in. A new generation of politically active citizens is needed. When I was a member of the European Parliament, I didn’t have many allies who were young and progressive. And the European Parliament is not an exception. All over the world, older men, especially, are over-represented in our elected institutions. Young people and, in particular, women are in the minority. This is something I hope the European Youth Parliament can help to change. Please, get young people involved in important issues like the climate and global justice.

It’s fun to fight for a better world. It gives life meaning; it leads, sooner or later, to concrete changes and, when you work together with others, it’s, as I said, quite simply fun. If the European Youth Parliament can help with this, you will fill an important and strategic function.With this words I´m happy to open the session for the European Youth Parliament.

Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution. Thank you.

Stop the persecution of DTP in Turkey

May 5, 2009
PRESS RELEASE
Stop the persecution of DTP in Turkey

The Turkish state must immediately put an end to persecution of members of the pro-Kurdish party DTP. The EU, Sweden and the international community should be able to play a more active roll and put pressure on Turkey. That was one of the conclusions drawn last week at the Left Party’s conference in the EU Parliament on the situation in Turkey: “The Kurdish human rights situation – A lasting peace and democratic development?”

In the March 29 election, the Democratic Society Party, DTP, made major gains. They doubled the number of DTP mayors, from 50 to over 100. At the same time, fully 100 leading members of DTP have been detained by Turkish authorities for alleged connection to terrorism or “insulting Turkishness” (according to Article 301 of the Turkish constitution).

“It is obvious that the Turkish state is incapable of accepting the DTP’s electoral success. We will be pressuring Turkey to release all of the prisoners and stop the repression,” says Jens Holm, MEP, GUE/NGL and the Swedish Left Party.
In the major city of Diyarbakir in eastern Turkey, the DTP’s candidate, Osman Baydemir, was elected mayor. He now risks being sent to prison on terrorism charges as the result of a farcical judicial process that has been initiated against him.

“The charges against Osman Baydemir must be immediately withdrawn. If he, as a duly elected representative for one of Turkey’s largest cities, can be charged with terrorism, no-one is safe,” says Berivan Öngörur, the Swedish Left Party, candidate to the EU Parliament.

On July 1, Sweden assumes the Presidency of the EU. Amineh Kakabaveh, Member of the Swedish Parliament for the Left Party, feels this would be a fitting occasion for pushing for better conditions in Turkey.

“The Left Party and I will work to see that the Swedish government makes a point of taking up the situation for Kurds and other minorities,” she says.

More information:
Jens Holm, tel: +46 76 847 03 28
Berivan Öngörur, tel: +46 70 955 88 47
Amineh Kakabaveh, tel:  +46 76 130 12 36

 

Great news from Iceland

Below a short note I wrote for my GUE/NGL-friends.

You have probably already heard about the results from this week-ends electon in Iceland. Our sister party: Left Green (VG) increased from 14 to 21.7 per cent, making them the third biggest party. They and the Socialdemocrats, 29.8, have now a comfortable majority.

The Left Green has been the only party which has been firmly against the neo-liberal politics on the island. Today more and more realize they been right all the time. The new political ”Civil Movement” got about 7 per cent. That is also a promising and interesting expression from the Icelandic people.
 
A possible EU accession could be one tricky issue in the future. The Left Green are against, the Socialdems in favour. The Iclandics have historically always been against, with the exception for some recent polls showing that a majority was in favour. Today that EU entusiasm have probably gone back substantially (a new poll showed that).
 
Please see the results:

The Left Green

 

MEPs get too much money

I often get the question: How much does an MEP earn? Some politicians don’t like that kind of intimate question. I, on the contrary, find them very relevant. We are financed by taxpayers money, so the taxpayers have the right to know.

So this is what we get paid:

Salary
According to our national MP standard: in my case, 4500 euros/month.

Travel allowance
Not according to the ticket price, but a lump sum based on the distance you have travelled: approx. 2000 euros/trip (to Brussels or Strasbourg).

Per diem
300 euros/day in Brussels/Strasbourg

General expenses
4000 euros/month

Yes, anyone can see that an MEP can quite easily become rich, very rich, on representing the people that elected him/her. In order to avoid that, I find it crucial to do two things:
1. Struggle as much as I can for reductions of these outrageous expenses (We should not get more money than a national MP; that should be the starting point of the discussion).
2. Give away the money I don’t need to do my work as a politician. I’d estimate that I donate 40,000 – 50,000 euros/year to grassroots organizations and my own party, the Swedish Left Party.

Meatclimate.org is now on the web

meatclimate_vertical_jens.jpgWe have just launched: http://www.meatclimate.org/, on which the report The Livestock Industry and Climate – EU makes Bad Worse can be found on eight different languages.

meatclimate_folk.jpg
Toivo from Sweden, Jennifer from Spain, Herma from Germany/Belgium and och Zdenek from the Czech republic.

Indeed very good atmosphere, with activists from Spain, Czech republik, Germany, UK, Sweden and the Netherlands. Among others the conservative MEP Edward McMillan-Scott showed up. He has just launched the ”green card” for vegetarianism. An unexpected but very welcomed allied.

A lot of thanks to all of you that have participated in making this report possible in so many different languages!

Eat less meat!

eatlessmeat.jpg Welcome to the launch of the report The livestock industry and the climate – EU makes bad worse in four new languages: Dutch, Spanish, German and Czech. Previously also in Swedish, English, French and Croatian.
 
Also launch of the brand new webpage www.meatclimate.org.
 
European Parliament, PHS 1C051, 14.00–15.00 on Wednesday, 4th of March 2009.
 
Please come and participate in the discussion. Meet vegetarian promoters from Belgium, Spain, Czech Republic and Sweden. Vegetarian as carnivore, all are welcome!
 
“Recalls the report entitled “Livestock’s Long Shadow” issued by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in November 2006, which states that the livestock industry is responsible for 18% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions…”
2050 – The future begins today,
report adopted by the European Parliament 4 February 2009.
 
Jens Holm, MEP, GUE/NGL
 
Very welcome!

Climate resolution targets livestock production

On Wednesday, the European Parliament approved the climate resolution “2050 – The future begins today.” I had negotiated for the Left group, GUE/NGL, and for some time prospects looked good. When the climate committee approved the resolution in December, we made the EU’s emissions limits stricter, requiring a 40% reduction in emissions by2020 and an 80% reduction by 2050.  Those limits remain in the document approved on Wednesday but, unfortunately, many of the requirements placed on the meat industry were deleted.

After the climate committee’s vote in December, negotiations between the various party groupings began, as is always the case before plenary sessions on major issues. All of the party groupings were agreed that there would be no changes made in the requirements placed on the meat industry. In particular, this was true of the formulations in paragraph 109, which read:
“…recognises that the cultivation of cereals and soya as feed for livestock is responsible for substantial greenhouse gas emissions; recalls the report entitled “Livestock’s Long Shadow” issued by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in November 2006, which states that the livestock industry is responsible for 18% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions; considers that a switch from intensive livestock production to extensive sustainable systems should be encouraged while total meat consumption also needs to be reduced, in particular in industrialised countries.”

The part in bold print above was, unfortunately, stricken (the paragraph in the revised version was given the number 118). Naturally, it is positive that the parliament still acknowledges that the meat industry represents a huge climate issue. But it is most unfortunate, and altogether too typical, that the parliament lacks the nerve to demand that the most obvious measure be taken; that is, that meat consumption be decreased.

Paragraph 119 requires measures regarding concentrated feed. That, in any case, was the idea behind the formulation. Because of compromises made for the plenary vote, this paragraph did not turn out as well as it could have either. It now reads:

”…calls for feed in dairy and meat production to be reviewed, and where necessary improved, with the aim of achieving a reduction in methane formation in the rumen of ruminants…”

Nevertheless, I thank the 162 MEPs who voted in favor of a reduction in meat consumption.

The resolution can be read here: climateresol_florenz_en1.doc

The EU parliament calls meat a climate threat

The EU parliament has concluded that meat consumption contributes to climate change. That is the finding after todays adoption of the climate resolution, ”2050 – The future begins today” (rapporteur: Florenz). Nevertheless, the parliament declined to demand that measures be taken to lower meat consumption. The resolution concerned how the EU will act to combat climate change. It did not contain any concrete proposals for legislation, but laid a course for the future. The parliament has determined that livestock raising and the meat industry account for 18% of the world’s greenhouse emissions.

Jens Holm, MEP GUE/NGL, Swedish Left Party, has worked in the parliament’s climate committee to negotiate the resolution:
“I had proposed demands for actions to lower meat consumption, but unfortunately the majority was not in favor,” says Holm. “I am grateful for the support of the 162 MEPs who voted in favor of demands for lowered consumption. The EU parliament missed an opportunity to take a courageous stand in defense of the environment. But that’s perhaps too much to hope for from representatives who always support agricultural subsidies, especially with regard to their own country’s farmers.”

The EU parliament indicated the future direction for several areas, including:
• More stringent long-term goals for reduced emissions in the EU – a 25-40% reduction by 2020 and at least 80% by 2050. Thus, the parliament has shown its desire to go further than the legislation on climate measures approved in December 2008’s climate package, in which the goal is a reduction of 20% by 2020.

• Acknowledgement that poor countries are the ones most severely affected by climate change and that the EU should therefore increase economic aid to developing countries’ efforts in this area.