Brussels – EU heads of state and government meeting in Brussels today are failing to address the root causes of the Covid-19 pandemic and climate crisis, said Greenpeace.

Plans to tackle the pandemic will again ignore the role of climate change and habitat destruction in the emergence and spread of viral infections like Covid-19.

Similarly, measures to respond to the climate crisis will duck the question of the inadequacy of the EU’s target according to science, and the role of the EU’s farming policies in driving climate breakdown and global deforestation.

Greenpeace EU director Jorgo Riss said: “The truth is that our political leaders care more about protecting the profits of big pharma than they do about stopping the next pandemic and tackling the climate crisis. EU climate targets disregard science and they ignore the role of farming policies and the destruction of nature in driving up emissions and fuelling disease. Vaccines can still save lives today, but they won’t prevent future pandemics and they can’t stop climate breakdown. Politicians need to recognise that protecting people means protecting nature – and they need to act on it.”

An estimated 73% of all emerging infectious diseases originate in animals, and livestock species transmit an extraordinary number of viruses, like coronaviruses and influenza viruses, to humans. Factory farming, especially of animals like poultry and pigs, where animals are kept in very high numbers and in close contact, and traded across big distances, is likely to increase disease transmission. 

Animal farming is also the main driver of global forest destruction, and researchers estimate 31% of outbreaks of emerging diseases are linked to humans encroaching into natural areas like tropical rainforests – including HIV, Ebola and Zika.

Contact: Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 274 19 11, [email protected]

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Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. We do not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties. We have over three million supporters, and offices in more than 55 countries. 

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