Last Thursday, City Council members joined environmental advocates on the steps of City Hall to introduce a resolution making their demand official.
The resolution was made in conjunction with a motion by the Los Angeles City Council to also condemn the destruction of rainforests around the world.
“Climate change is a challenge to our future that isn’t going away,” said Councilman Costa Constantinides, who chairs the City Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection. “That shouldn’t preclude us, however, from taking a bold stance against deforestation, which only accelerates the effects of this man-made phenomenon.
“Just as the loss of trees in the Amazon can exacerbate climate change in New York City or Los Angeles,” he added, “we can make real change by taking a first stance against businesses whose practices have sparked these wildfires.”
According to the officials, an uptick in meat demand has caused South American cattle ranchers to clear more of the Amazon for grazing.
As a result, forest fires throughout the Amazon have gone up 80 percent since last year. The Brazilian National Institute for Space Research recorded 41,000 fire locations throughout the country.
The Amazon’s trees help absorb carbon dioxide emissions, which normally exacerbate climate change.
According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, beef demand jumps about five percent every year. It takes an average of 300 square feet of land and more than 200 gallons of water to create a single pound of beef, officials said.
The production, transportation and storage of meat worsen the effects of climate change as well because more emissions are pumped into the atmosphere.
“Each individual consumer choice, each corporate decision and each specific legislative policy must be geared toward making our planet more sustainable and habitable for generations to come,” Borough President Eric Adams said in a statement. “But we can only achieve this together.
“What we eat matters, who we do business with matters,” he added. “This resolution is a first step in opening a broader conversation about how we overcome one of the most significant challenges humanity has ever faced.”
The City Council resolution calls on city agencies and businesses to “divest from agricultural industries” that accelerate global warming.
The elected officials said at the rally that New Yorkers can also make a difference by reducing how much meat, dairy and eggs they consume.
“Amazon fires and deforestation give new meaning to the phrase ‘Meat is Murder,’” Brooklyn Councilman Justin Brannan said in a statement. “In this case, the victim is also our planet.
“New York City must be a leader and divest from this organized destruction of our environment for short-term planet,” he added. “It’s time to get real about this destructive effects animal agriculture and meat production have on our planet.”