Faunalytics and Sentient Media study – media vs. animal sector
Only 7% of climate articles mention animal agriculture and rarely discuss its impact on climate change. In the 1,000 articles analyzed, only a few detailed the link between the consumption of animal products and climate change. Most of the articles that mentioned animal agriculture did not discuss emissions and environmental degradation caused by the industry, let alone the importance of reducing meat consumption or switching to a plant-based diet in the fight against climate change. When diets have been discussed, the effectiveness of plant-based diets has sometimes been downplayed or, more often than not, presented almost as an afterthought rather than a legitimate climate change mitigation strategy.
The animal agriculture industry is often portrayed as a victim of climate change, rather than a significant cause of it. Qualitative analysis showed that instead of citing agriculture’s negative impact on the environment, climate articles that discussed the industry in depth generally focused on how climate change is affecting animal agriculture. Many articles discussed how floods, droughts and heat waves have caused animal agriculture losses both in the U.S. and abroad, and how this is affecting farmers’ livelihoods, while failing to mention the role the animal industry is playing in the climate crisis.
There are countless missed opportunities to discuss animal agriculture in the context of climate change. Energy, transportation, emissions and fossil fuels have taken center stage in climate coverage: These topics were mentioned in 68% of climate articles, but were rarely related to animal agriculture, despite the connections and similarities between the two. For example, transportation is responsible for about the same amount of emissions as the animal industry and is part of that industry, but only 8% of climate articles mentioning transportation also referred to animal agriculture.
The media also pays insufficient attention to the influential subsectors of animal agriculture. Cattle farming accounts for about 62% of emissions from animal agriculture (FAO, 2022), but cows were mentioned in only 30% of articles on animal agriculture. Similarly, methane appeared in 22% of articles on animal agriculture, despite accounting for 54% of the sector’s emissions.