December 9, 2020

Animals as Drivers of Climate Change

We’re aiming to gain a deeper understanding of animals as drivers of climate change: Which animals are seen as driving climate change – either by virtue of their “natural” and “normal” ways of living and being or because they are forced into a certain practice, e.g., by being bred, farmed, and slaughtered in mind-boggling numbers. A focal point of this session will be the link between agriculture and climate change. We’ll be looking at legal loopholes emerging from agricultural exceptionalism, spillover effects on climate change politics, and the creation of potential existential risks. We will also investigate the role of veganism in transforming these systems. Finally, we’d like to gather thoughts on envisioning a post animal agriculture future: Is there metaphorical and/or literal space for animals formerly used for agricultural purposes in a climate-sensitive environment?

A second focal point of this session will be on the role and status of animals in a changing climate. When and how are animals blamed for climate change? When are they framed as “innocent,” “helpless” victims? When are they framed as “invaders,” “perpetrators,” or “blameworthy drivers” of climate change? What we have in mind here, for example, is the attribution of blame in PETA’s recent advertisement against deforestation in the Amazon, where cows are pictured as “killer cows” destroying endangered birds, sea, and land mammals; or the attribution of blame to the many bats killed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The recent Corona crisis can be linked to or stimulate this debate, to the extent that we can discuss the differences and similarities between when and how animals are blamed for climate change vs. pandemics, and how pandemics and climate change in turn increase animal suffering. 

More information can be found here.