China, Climate Change and Animal Agriculture

China, Climate Change and Animal Agriculture

As a result of disseminating Skillful Means: the Challenges of China’s Encounter with Factory Farming more widely within China, Brighter Green has gathered some interesting perspectives on how the links between climate change and animal agriculture are being framed by the Chinese government and interpreted by China’s people.

Jeff Zhou, who works with Compassion in World Farming and other NGOs in Beijing, reports that: “[Skillful Meanshad a very important influence although it wasn’t reported [in the media] that much. We people living in China, especially in Beijing hear news about climate change and global warming more and more these days, espcially after the Chinese New Year. It seems that the government is also putting effort to call on people to live with the concern about the environment.”

Before, Jeff continues, “almost over 99% of the media would focus on transportation when talking about climate change. [But] now more and more people realise the consequences of industrial agriculture. I suppose it was because of the influnce of this article [Skillful Means] and the work of other organizations.

From his outreach to academics in China, Jeff found more openness to the material in Skillful Means than he might have anticipated. “Most of my academic contacts had a very good response to it,” he writes. “Some said they would help to send it to more people, [while] some said they would integrate the data and information into their curricula.” Their perspective was that the Chinese government, while sensitive to criticisms of its national development policy — including the intensification of animal agriculture — could not entirely dismiss the contents of Skillful Means. “The scholars all felt that as the data was reality-based and the world is in an information era, there is no way to block the audience to get to know the truth,” Jeff writes.

Another perspective comes from Stella Zhou Ying, a university student in Beijing and a vegan activist, who will be attending the Harvard School of Public Health beginning in September 2009. She provided insightful comments on Skillful Means and shared the paper within and outside her university. Stella offers another perspective on the pubic presentation of food and climate change in China, one not widely known. She writes: “Huang Yunbao, a member of CPPCC Hangzhou Municipal Committee, proposed eating less meat to combat climate change at the municipal people’s congress. His proposal enjoyed wide media coverage. (I’m from Hangzhou. I’m glad about that.) It’s also reported that vegetarianism/veganism is being promoted in many other cities [in China] (roadside billboards, newspapers…)”

Could this be China’s next great leap forward?