The Dutch city of Haarlem becomes the first in the world to ban advertising for meat in public spaces. This is one of the measures to reduce consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases. Haarlem, which has about 160,000 inhabitants, will introduce the ban from 2024 after meat was added to a list of products believed to contribute to the climate crisis.
Meat advertising on Haarlem buses and screens in public spaces is prohibited. The meat sector complains that the municipality “goes too far to tell people what is best for them”. But according to recent studies, global food production is responsible for a third of the planet’s total greenhouse gas emissions, with the use of animals for meat causing twice as much pollution as the production of plant foods.
Forests that absorb carbon dioxide are cut down to allow the animals to graze, while the fertilizers used to grow their feed are rich in nitrogen, which can contribute to air and water pollution, climate change and ozone depletion. Livestock also produces large amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
Ziggy Klazes, a GroenLinks councilor who drafted the motion to ban meat advertising, said she was unaware the city would be the first in the world to enforce such a policy when she proposed it. She told the radio station Haarlem105: “We are not concerned with what people bake and roast in their own kitchen, if people want to continue to eat meat, fine. But we cannot tell people there is a climate crisis and encourage them to buy products that are part of the cause.”
“Of course there are many people who find the decision outrageous and patronizing, but there are also many people who think it’s fine. If it is taken up nationally, that would only be very nice. There are many groups of GroenLinks who think it’s a good idea and want to try it,” says Klazes.
Freedom of speech
The ban also applies to holiday flights, fossil fuels and cars that run on fossil fuels. The ban has been postponed to 2024 due to existing contracts with companies selling the products. There is some opposition to the measure within the Haarlem city council, with critics arguing that it restricts freedom of expression.
Sander van den Raadt, party leader of Trots Haarlem, is against the measure: “It is remarkable that the municipality of Haarlem is holding a large poster campaign in Haarlem that you can be yourself and love whoever you want, but if you like meat instead of soft grass, ‘the patronizing brigade’ will come and tell you that you are completely wrong.”
Research by Greenpeace shows that to meet the EU’s target of net-zero emissions by 2050, meat consumption will need to be reduced to 24 kg per person per year, compared to the current average of 75.8 kg in the Netherlands, which is the largest meat exporter in the EU.
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