Animal Rebellion Campaigners Scale DEFFRA In Climate Change Protest Ahead Of COP26

Two climbers hold a banner which states "COP26: invest in a plant-based future" on the wall of DEFFRA

Date: 26/10/2021


  • Animal Rebellion protestors have scaled the face of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) building amid calls for a plant-based future
  • The climate and animal movement are demanding the UK government ‘defund meat’ by investing in plant-based alternatives instead, to mitigate climate change and reduce animal suffering
  • They say the action is a clear message to world leaders attending COP26 later this month, urging them to step up if they hope to make real change 
  • Link to photos

Animal Rebellion campaigners have scaled the front of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) building to demand an end to government subsidies for meat and dairy in a protest against climate change.

The protesters climbed the building in the early hours of this morning, unveiling a banner that reads “COP26: Invest in a Plant-Based Future”. Animal Rebellion says they intend to remain on the building, suspended in hammocks, until UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledges to cut all taxpayer support for animal agriculture and promises to urge all world leaders to do the same when they attend the COP26 summit later this week. 

Animal Rebellion spokesperson Nathan McGovern said: “The UK Government is simultaneously saying that it is a world leader in climate change whilst propping up the unsustainable and unprofitable meat and dairy industry, one that emits disproportionate amounts of greenhouse gases. This hypocrisy has to end – we need to defund meat and subsidise plant-based alternatives instead.”

The UK government spends at least £1.5 billion a year subsidising livestock farming, ten times the UK’s annual budget for planting trees (see Notes to Editors for calculations). Meanwhile, despite a global explosion in demand for planet-friendly alternative proteins, the UK has only committed £90m in research and development to this sector. 

As part of the campaign, Animal Rebellion is demanding the government subsidise plant-based foods instead, as recommended by the National Food Strategy, as a “positive action to protect the planet for future generations and end the unnecessary suffering of billions of animals every year.” 

The National Food Strategy, who conducted the first independent review of the UK food system in 75 years, advised the government to invest £1 billion into food system innovation, with £125 million set aside for innovation into alternative proteins to replace meat, dairy and eggs. 

The government-commissioned report tackles the nation’s meat consumption, stating: “Our current appetite for meat is unsustainable. Plant-based proteins produce 70 times less greenhouse gas emissions than an equivalent amount of beef, and use 150 times less land.”

The report also mentions the economic benefits of the alternative protein industry, claiming that up to 10,000 new jobs could be created in the UK by investing in this growing sector. It adds that, if we don’t act soon, we could lose out on “new green jobs” and become net importers of these products.

Finally, it addresses the myth that free-range, grass-fed and regenerative livestock is greener, stating: “The more intensively you rear some animals, the more carbon-efficient they tend to be.”

In the UK, livestock grazers are largely dependent on public subsidies with around 90% of their profits coming from taxpayers pockets. Experts believe that 85% of the UK’s total land footprint is associated with meat and dairy production. 

Notes to editors:

– The UK spends £3bn a year on farming subsidies of which at least half £1.5bn is spent on livestock. According to Greenpeace around half of European farming subsidies across Europe go to livestock farming. With 85% of the UK’s land footprint associated with meat and dairy the figure is actually likely to be much higher in the UK, but no precise figures exist.  

– The UK’s Net Zero Strategy published last week pledges £750m to be spent on the Nature for Climate Fund by 2025: this was first announced in the March 2020 budget. Across the five years 2020-25 that’s £150m per year on tree planting or roughly 1/10th of the annual budget for subsidising animal agriculture. 

To find out more about Animal Rebellion and start taking action for our planet, click here.


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  • Nathan (on ground)
  • Hazel (back office)
  • Joel (back office)
Animal Rebellion Campaigners Scale DEFFRA In Climate Change Protest Ahead Of COP26
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