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Don’t panic – climate activists and World Economic Forum don’t want to ‘slaughter’ your pets

IN SHORT: A CNN article discussed a study on the environmental impact of pets in the USA, and gave tips on how to reduce this impact. Soon after, the disinformation-for-profit website News Punch claimed the World Economic Forum and climate activists wanted to “slaughter millions” of dogs and cats “to fight climate change”. But this is totally made up.

“Klaus Schwab and World Economic Forum are now coming for your pets,” a Facebook user warns in a December 2022 post.

The post includes a screenshot of an article with the headline: “WEF Wants To Slaughter Millions of Pet Cats and Dogs to Fight Climate Change.”

Below the headline is a photo of Klaus Schwab, the chair of global thinktank the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The claim that WEF – and climate activists – wants pets killed has also appeared on Reddit, Instagram, Twitter and Rumble. A version of the article read out on YouTube has been viewed thousands of times.  

The WEF is often the subject of conspiracy theories. But does it really want to slaughter millions of pets in the name of the climate emergency? We looked into it. 


Claim came from a website known to spread false information

The screenshot is of an article on News Punch, a website known to peddle disinformation for profit. 

Published on 9 December, the article reads: “The World Economic Forum is now calling for millions of cats and dogs worldwide to be slaughtered in an effort to reduce the ‘carbon pawprint’ they produce as a result of eating meat.” 

It follows a News Punch article posted in late November headlined: “Climate Activists Vow To Slaughter Millions of Dogs To ‘Reduce Carbon Pawprint’.”

Neither article, despite some heavy hinting in the December version, mentions any specific WEF policy or recommendation that calls for the killing of pets to fight climate change.

Instead, both are based on a recent CNN article published in September with a far less alarming headline: “Our pets are part of the climate problem. These tips can help you minimise their carbon pawprints.”

But News Punch claims CNN “has begun urging its viewers to starve their pets to death” to fight climate change. It goes on to describe WEF’s supposed “sinister intentions”, and calls CNN employees “liberal sadists”. 

Africa Check could find no evidence that WEF has called for the killing of pets in the fight against climate change. Neither could other fact-checkers.

‘Bidding farewell to your best friends is not the answer’

The CNN article discusses carbon emissions from pet feeding in the United States, and says the impact is equal to around “64 million tons of carbon dioxide in the US each year”.

But it does not call for pets to be killed to reduce these emissions – or for any other reason. In fact, it clearly tries to put this reflexive reaction at bay. After explaining the emissions, it says: “But don’t panic. Bidding farewell to your best friends is not the answer.” 

Most of the CNN article gives tips people can use to, as it says, “minimise your pets’ environmental impact while still caring for your furry fleet”. But this information has been left out of the News Punch articles. 

Its tips include re-evaluating your pet’s food and how you dispose of pet waste. It also discusses whether you should adopt a new pet, or consider smaller dog breeds or other pets with less environmental impact.

Study article based on made no such suggestion

The CNN article is based on a 2017 study published in the journal Plos One. In the study, researchers used various data to estimate the environmental impact of dogs and cats in the United States.

The study concludes, as the CNN article says, that the impact of our pets could be reduced if more people adopted pets that eat less meat, such as smaller or plant-eating pets. 

It also suggests that to curb emissions, industries could implement ways to reduce overfeeding and waste, and look into other sources of protein for pet food products. But the study does not call for killing or otherwise getting rid of any fluffy companions.

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