Cut in livestock sector’s GHG emissions within reach
Pigprogress.net, October 1st
Greenhouse gas emissions by the livestock sector could be cut by as much as 30% through the wider use of existing best practices and technologies, according to a new study released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
The report, Tackling climate change through livestock: A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities, represents the most comprehensive estimate made to-date of livestock's contribution to global warming – as well as the sector's potential to help tackle the problem.
All told, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with livestock supply chains add up to 7.1 gigatonnes (GT) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-eq) per year – or 14.5% of all human-caused GHG releases.
The main sources of emissions are: feed production and processing (45% of the total), outputs of GHG during digestion by cows (39%), and manure decomposition (10%). The remainder is attributable to the processing and transportation of animal products.
To arrive at its estimates, FAO conducted a detailed analysis of GHG emissions at multiple stages of various livestock supply chains, including the production and transport of animal feed, on-farm energy use, emissions from animal digestion and manure decay, as well as post-slaughter transport, refrigeration and packaging of animal products.
Within livestock production systems, there is a strong link between resource use efficiency and the intensity of GHG emissions, notes FAO's report. The potential for achieving emissions reductions lies in enabling all livestock producers to change to practices already being used by the most efficient operators.