Scientists call on development aid charities to stop animal gifting programs to avert a climate catastrophe

We, the undersigned, call on development charities including Oxfam, World Vision, Heifer International and Cargill’s “Hatching Hope” project, Christian Aid, Save the Children, Plan Canada, Lutheran World Relief, Feed the Children, Tearfund and others to undertake carbon disclosure of their projects, Stop Animal Gifting, and implement plant based food system projects as a crucial step in addressing the escalating climate crisis.

We are asking development charities to listen to and act on the science, which consistently demonstrates the grave threat posed to humanity by multiple amplifying feedback loops in the Hothouse Earth pathway (aka runaway climate change) and highlights the instrumental role food systems have in both contributing to, and being able to mitigate, the growing climate and ecological crisis.

Methane emergency

The 6th Scientific Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that business as usual will lead to temperature rises of 1.5C around 2030 and a catastrophic 2C around 20451. The IPCC highlights the critical need to tackle greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture, particularly methane, which has a warming effect 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide on molecule per molecule basis. IPCC scenarios modelled in AR6 suggest a 50% reduction by 2050 and 75% reduction by 2100 is probably the only way of avoiding temperature rises above 1.5 degrees Celsius2, and the biggest opportunity to avoid crossing more tipping points in the next few crucial years. Methane from meat and the dairy industries accounts for about a third of these emissions3.

“Cutting methane is the biggest opportunity to slow warming between now and 2040. We need to face this emergency.” Durwood Zaelke IPCC Lead Reviewer

“Slashing methane emissions (as well as CO2) is now a survival imperative.” Peter Carter, IPCC expert reviewer and founder of the Climate Emergency Institute

Several peer-reviewed studies highlight that if global meat consumption continues on projected trajectories, agricultural emissions will take up the entire world’s carbon budget by 2050, with animal agriculture a major contributor4.

Shifting development aid away from animal gifting projects, which expand animal agriculture and accelerate the climate crisis, and towards sustainable and nutritious plant based-food systems will provide opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, halt deforestation, free up land for rewilding and reforestation, and improve public health, biodiversity and air quality.

"We must act on the science, and act now. Animal agriculture is a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss, and ecosystem destruction. Globally, we need far more plant-based meal plans to create long-lasting, sustainable change -- for everyone." Marc Bekoff, Professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology, University of Colorado, Boulder

We call on aid development charities to alleviate poverty and hunger by:

  • Creating community seed hubs
  • Rolling out water irrigation systems
  • Providing training in permaculture and organic and veganic farming techniques
  • Reforesting lands and regenerate soils
  • Planting trees to increase canopies to help improve the water cycle and restoring Savannah to rainforest and restore key ecosystems

"Well-intentioned or not, gifting animals to poor communities is an ill-conceived form of charity. As a major contributor to climate change, pandemics, biodiversity loss, and animal suffering, animal agriculture has no place in forward-thinking policy and action. We must invest in the empowerment of communities to thrive on eco-friendly plant-based agriculture." Jonathan Balcombe, PhD, biologist

Our world is now threatened as never before, with human extinction a very real possibility. We need a rapid and sustained phase out of fossil fuels and animal agriculture now to limit global temperatures to lower than 1.5C in the long term.

“Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during this century unless immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, especially of carbon dioxide and methane, occur in the nearest future.” - Hunein Lee, IPCC Chair, at COP26, Glasgow

We the undersigned are asking development charities to play a crucial role by putting sustainable plant-based systems in place now to help communities better adapt to forthcoming climate changes and to change course and be part of the solutions to avert climate catastrophe. 

Many thanks for your consideration.

Very truly yours,


Marc Bekoff, Professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology, University of Colorado, Boulder

Natasha Maria BA(Hons), MSc Sustainable Food & Natural Resources

Professor Danny Harvey, Dept of Geography, University of Toronto

Marcin Anaszewicz, PhD, Warsaw, Poland

Dr. Betty Moss, University of the Incarnate Word, Texas

Jonathan Balcombe, PhD, biologist and author


Fateh Sidhu, MHA, Sanger, USA

Kelly Anne Smith BScPhm, London, Canada

Prof. , Marcin Urbaniak, Kraków, Poland

Ryszard Kulik, PChD, Łękawica, Poland

Dawn Orahood, Columbus, USA

Mary Finelli, President, Fish Feel

Julia Thielert, Isernhagen, Germany

Claire Harding, BBC Hons Natural Science Chemistry

Barbara Niedźwiedzka, PhD, Kraków, Poland

Lori Marino, PhD, neuroscientist

Zuzana Černochová, Jeseník 1, Česká republika

Kathrin Herrmann Animal Protection Commissioner of Berlin, DVM, DipECAWBM (AWSEL), PhD
Dr Nadia Vilchenon, France
Kathrin Herrmann Animal Protection Commissioner of Berlin, DVM, DipECAWBM (AWSEL), PhD

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  2. Methane emissions need to go down about 75% in order to peak at 1.5C. Fig 4.2a (in chapter 4) of IPCC AR6 shows that  global mean temperature plateaus at 1.5 C for scenario SSP1-1.9 and at 2.0C for SSP1-2.6. 

  3. The role of animal agriculture in anthropogenic methane emissions is one third based on Table 5.2 of IPCC AR6. Overall, the IPCC reports that food systems account for about 35 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. 

  4. Bajželj, B., Richards, K.S., Allwood, J.M., Smith, P., Dennis, J.S., Curmi, E. and Gilligan, C.A., 2014. Importance of food-demand management for climate mitigation. Nature Climate Change, 4(10), pp.924-929.]