Monday, September 30, 2013

UN Food and Agriculture Organization Releases Study on Global GHG Emissions from Livestock Production

On September 26, 2013, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released a study claiming that wider use of existing best practices and technologies could reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 30% in the livestock sector. According to FAO, the report is the most comprehensive estimate of livestock’s contribution to global warming to-date. FAO used the life cycle assessment method for the identification of all main emission sources along supply chains. Based on this method of data collection, it determined that the livestock sector contributes 14.5% of all human-caused GHG releases, and was able to pinpoint where emission release peaked within the life cycle of the supply chain.

The report asserts that the potential for reducing emissions will require all livestock producers to conform to practices already being used by the most efficient producers. These practices include:

-        improving feed quality and feeding techniques to reduce methane, CH4, and nitrous oxide

-        improving breeding and animal health interventions to allow herd size to shrink

-        better management of grazing lands to improve productivity and create carbon sinks to help offset emissions

-        switching to feed that requires less energy to produce

FAO offers solutions to the problem of incentivizing change, such as financial incentives to offset risks and initial investments for producers, among other suggestions.

For the full report please see the FAO’s Tackling Climate Change Through Livestock.
Written by Sarah L. Doyle - Research Assistant
The Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center
September 30, 2013

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