ArticlePDF Available

Emissions from Animal Agriculture—16.5% Is the New Minimum Figure

Authors:
Article

Emissions from Animal Agriculture—16.5% Is the New Minimum Figure

Abstract

Knowledge production within the climate sciences is quickly taken up by multiple stakeholders, reproduced in scientific citation and the broader culture, even when it is no longer accurate. This article accomplishes two goals: firstly, it contributes to the clarification of the quantification of emissions from animal agriculture, and secondly, it considers why the dominant framing of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) on this subject focuses on maximizing production efficiency. Specifically, analysing the FAO’s own work on this topic shows that the often-used FAO estimate that emissions from animal agriculture amount to 14.5% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is now out of date. In returning to the FAO’s own explanation of its data sources and its more recent analysis of emissions from animal agriculture, this article finds that the figure of minimum estimate should be updated to 16.5%. The tendency of the FAO to prioritize a technological approach focused on making animal production more “eco-efficient” is critically examined in light of many other evidence-based calls for reductions in animal consumption. An explanation for this FAO approach is offered in terms of a type of epistemological bias.
sustainability
Communication
Emissions from Animal Agriculture—16.5% Is the New
Minimum Figure
Richard Twine


Citation: Twine, R. Emissions from
Animal Agriculture—16.5% Is the
New Minimum Figure. Sustainability
2021,13, 6276. https://doi.org/
10.3390/su13116276
Academic Editor: Mohammad
Aslam Khan Khalil
Received: 10 May 2021
Accepted: 28 May 2021
Published: 2 June 2021
Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral
with regard to jurisdictional claims in
published maps and institutional affil-
iations.
Copyright: © 2021 by the author.
Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
This article is an open access article
distributed under the terms and
conditions of the Creative Commons
Attribution (CC BY) license (https://
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/
4.0/).
Department of Social Sciences, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk L39 4QP, UK; richard.twine@edgehill.ac.uk
Abstract:
Knowledge production within the climate sciences is quickly taken up by multiple stake-
holders, reproduced in scientific citation and the broader culture, even when it is no longer accurate.
This article accomplishes two goals: firstly, it contributes to the clarification of the quantification
of emissions from animal agriculture, and secondly, it considers why the dominant framing of the
United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) on this subject focuses on maximizing
production efficiency. Specifically, analysing the FAO’s own work on this topic shows that the
often-used FAO estimate that emissions from animal agriculture amount to 14.5% of all greenhouse
gas (GHG) emissions is now out of date. In returning to the FAO’s own explanation of its data sources
and its more recent analysis of emissions from animal agriculture, this article finds that the figure of
minimum estimate should be updated to 16.5%. The tendency of the FAO to prioritize a technological
approach focused on making animal production more “eco-efficient” is critically examined in light of
many other evidence-based calls for reductions in animal consumption. An explanation for this FAO
approach is offered in terms of a type of epistemological bias.
Keywords:
animal agriculture; climate change; emissions; epistemological bias; FAO; GLEAM;
sociology of science; United Nations
1. Introduction
Two FAO reports, Livestock’s Long Shadow (2006) [
1
] and Tackling Climate Change
Through Livestock (2013) [
2
] have played a key role in the debate on GHG emissions from
animal agriculture. They suggested the sector contributes overall 18% of emissions [
1
], then
revised this down to 14.5% [
2
]. The two lead authors of each report are the same and neither
reports advocated reductions in animal consumption, preferring to prioritize efficiency
improvements and sustainable intensification as the best framing to tackle emissions from
the sector. The 14.5% figure has subsequently been routinely cited in further research [
3
,
4
]
and the media [
5
,
6
]. However, this figure is shown here to be incorrect by probing in
more detail why the FAO revised 18% down to 14.5%. A better understanding of how
such figures are calculated and become influential is important for a wide variety of
stakeholders including climate scientists, climate social scientists, policy makers and civil
society. Emissions related to agriculture are further important for producers and retailers
in the food sector. Even small upward revisions in the percentage figure can be important
for how the issue of emissions from animal agriculture comes to be socially and politically
constructed. The main aim of this article is to examine the FAO 14.5% claim [
2
] by revisiting
its methodology for arriving at that figure. A secondary aim is to critically reflect on
the FAO reluctance to call for a downsizing of the animal production sector. This is an
important issue for the aforementioned stakeholders because downsizing could have a
more successful emissions reduction effect than the framing of trying to make animal
production more efficient. Subsequent work such as the EAT-Lancet commission [
7
] calls
for substantial reductions in meat consumption within a co-benefit framing of improving
human health and achieving emissions reductions (as well as other concerns including
biodiversity and water conservation). The commission argued that transitioning to more
Sustainability 2021,13, 6276. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13116276 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability
Sustainability 2021,13, 6276 2 of 8
sustainable diets is necessary to successfully meet the mitigation targets of the Paris
Agreement and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This asks
questions of the FAO as to whether its own framing is in fact the best approach to achieve
the goals created by its own parent organization. This article also contributes to the
broader debate over the contribution of agriculture to overall emissions vis-à-vis fossil
fuels [
8
,
9
], specifically to question the relative less attention given to agriculture in climate
policy discourse.
2. Method
The method in this article is to re-examine the FAO data and their sources used. Both
reports agreed that the Animal Agriculture–Greenhouse Gases (AA–GHGs) link is con-
stituted by the following main emissions sources: land use changes for feed production
and grazing, methane emissions mostly associated with the enteric fermentation of ru-
minant farmed animals, nitrous oxide emissions mostly associated with farmed animal
manure, fossil fuel use during feed and farmed animal production, and fossil fuel use in
the production and transport of processed and refrigerated animal products. However,
the later report used a new methodological tool called GLEAM [
10
] (Global Livestock
Environmental Assessment Model), a modelling framework developed within the Animal
Production and Health Division of the FAO, which it asserted was more accurate. The
Appendix to the second report [
2
] explains the differences between the two reports and
gives some indication of why 18% became 14.5%. More specifically, the methodological
approach of this article goes through several stages. For the two reports [
1
,
2
], year data
reference points are compared both for emissions from animal agriculture and for total
global emissions. Sources for total global emissions data are highlighted and it is examined
whether the same source, or different sources, were used for the two reports. Furthermore,
it is then investigated whether data remained stable over time, since data revisions by
bodies involved in producing total global emissions data may impact upon FAO findings.
The article then examines changes introduced by the FAO GLEAM tool for the second
report, and then goes on to consider how FAO data on animal production and deforestation
might have impacted emissions levels since 2010. FAO findings are compared with other
relevant studies that have analysed the land use dimensions of animal agriculture. Finally,
in the discussion section the FAO commitment to an efficiency framing as their preferred
approach to tackling emissions from animal agriculture is examined.
3. Results
Despite its 2013 publication date, the second report used data that were relatively old:
from 2004 (for total global emissions) and 2005 (for total emissions from animal agriculture).
The first FAO report [
1
] used data from a 2000–2004 reference point (2000 for total global
emissions and 2001–2004 for their animal agriculture emissions estimate). The second
report estimated that “total GHG emissions from livestock supply chains are 7.1 gigatonnes
(Gt) CO
2
-eq per annum for the 2005 reference period” [
2
] (p. 15). It arrived at the 14.5%
figure simply by expressing 7.1 as a proportion of the 2004 IPCC figure of total global GHG
emissions of 49 Gt CO2-eq found in the fourth assessment report of the IPCC in 2007 [11].
The report’s authors made clear that their 7.1 figure was “in line with FAO’s previous
assessment, Livestock’s Long Shadow, published in 2006” [
2
] (p. 15). However, the second
report decided to use a different dataset for total global emissions. Whereas the first report
used the total global emissions data of the World Resource Institute (WRI), the second
report switched its data source to the IPCC. The WRI data are from their Climate Analysis
Indicators Tool (CAIT) database [
12
], which includes all gases and sectors (referred to
as WRI hereafter). This switch away from WRI to IPCC is significant because there is a
consistent discrepancy between total global emissions data when the WRI and IPCC are
compared. It is also significant because the second report used the IPCC fourth assessment
data for 2004 published in 2007, but when the IPCC published their fifth assessment report
Sustainability 2021,13, 6276 3 of 8
in 2014 [
13
], they had themselves revised down their total global emissions data for 2004.
It is worthwhile examining these two points in further detail.
WRI data for total global emissions data are consistently lower than data of the IPCC.
Whereas the second report uses an IPCC figure of 49 Gt CO
2
-eq for 2004, WRI data do
not reach the level of 49 Gt CO
2
-eq until 2013 (their most recent data are 49.9 Gt CO
2
-eq
for 2017). In contrast to the IPCC, the WRI global emissions data for 2004 are 42.48 Gt
CO
2
-eq [
12
]. Had the FAO retained the WRI as their source of global emissions data for
their second report they would have concluded that animal agriculture was responsible
for 16.7% of emissions (not 14.5%), a figure far closer to the 18% of the first report [
1
]. The
WRI data were available to the FAO but for reasons not specified they switched their data
source to the IPCC, which had the effect of lowering the 18% figure of the first report. As
mentioned, by the time they had published their fifth assessment report, the IPCC had
revised down their global emissions data for 2004 from 49 to 45 Gt CO
2
-eq [
13
]. Although
these IPCC data were presumably not yet available to the FAO authors, this illustrates that
even using their new preferred data source for global annual emissions the percentage
contribution of animal agriculture to overall GHGs would not be 14.5% but 15.8% (see
Table 1, note 3). Therefore, depending on whether IPCC or WRI data are used, a range of
between 15.8 and 16.7% as a quantification of the AA–GHGs link is indicated.
Table 1.
Estimates of the percentage contribution of animal agriculture to Total Global Emissions. Including two alternative expressed
percentages based on FAO’s GLEAM 2.0 analysis using (A) IPCC AR5 and (B) WRI CAIT data for total global emissions (CO
2
-eq Gt).
Analysis:
Livestock’s
Long Shadow
(FAO 2006)
Tackling Climate
Change through
Livestock
(FAO 2013)
GLEAM 2.0
(FAO 2017) A B
Poore and
Nemecek
(2018)
Total estimated
CO2-eq emissions
from animal
agriculture (Gt)
7.1 7.1 8.1 8.1 8.1 14.7
Year(s) used 2001–2004 2005 2010 2010 2010 2010
Total Global CO2-eq
Emissions (Gt) 37.44 49 (45) 2NR 49 46.64 52.3
Year used 2000 2004 NR 2010 2010 2010
Source WRI CAIT IPCC AR4 NR IPCC AR5 WRI CAIT EDGAR
Estimated
contribution of
animal agriculture to
Total Global
Emissions (%)
18 *
(18.96) 1
14.5 *
(15.78) 3NR 16.5 17.4 28.1
NR = Not Reported. * Widely cited figures.
1
Recalculated based on reported WRI CAIT figure for 2000 of 37.44 Gt.
2
Revised 2004 figure
from IPCC AR5 (2014). 3 Recalculated based on figure of 45 Gt.
Yet there are further questions to ask. Firstly, is it credible that the figure of 7.1 Gt CO
2
-
eq remained static between the two reports? Secondly, were there any other methodological
changes of relevance between the two reports that may have kept the figure at 7.1? Thirdly,
and crucially, are there any more recent analyses of the 7.1 total? The Appendix of the
second report [
2
] contains important information about the change in methodology and
accounting performed in the second report. Specifically,
“The Livestock’s long shadow assessment includes GHG emissions related to the
production of feed (including pasture) fed to all animal species (for a total of 2.7
gigatonnes CO
2
-eq), whereas this report only accounts for feed materials fed to
the studied species, i.e., poultry, cattle, pig, small ruminants and buffalo (for a
total of 3.2 gigatonnes CO
2
-eq including rice products). All manure emissions
were accounted for in the Livestock’s long shadow assessment (for a total of ap-
Sustainability 2021,13, 6276 4 of 8
prox. 2.2 gigatonnes CO
2
-eq), but only emissions related to manure management
and manure application on feed crops or pasture are accounted for in this report
(for a total of 0.7 gigatonnes CO
2
-eq and 1.1 gigatonnes CO
2
-eq, respectively)”
[2] (p. 106).
Although the second report covers the main farmed animal species, the extract implies
that their figure related to the production of feed would have been marginally higher (and
so also the overall figure of 7.1) had they, like in the first report, included all farmed animal
species. Furthermore, it is not stated why the second report changed its accounting of
manure emissions, which resulted in 0.4 Gt CO
2
-eq less being included in the overall total.
The decline in the percentage number between the two reports could be accounted for
by (a) accounting for manure emissions differently, and (b) switching from WRI to IPCC
data for total annual emissions. This analysis so far is sufficient to illustrate uncertainty
over the construction of the 14.5% figure. At this stage we can confidently conclude that
14.5% was based upon an IPCC AR4 overestimate of total global emissions, which was
later revised down by the IPCC AR5, and this has never been mentioned subsequently by
the FAO authors.
Even more surprising though is that in 2017 the FAO issued on their website the results
of GLEAM 2.0 with new data presented for animal agricultural emissions for 2010 [
10
].
However, this time there was no major FAO report and no media reporting of a new
percentage figure. Looking at the new FAO data, total emissions from animal agriculture
had increased by 1 Gt to 8.1 Gt in the period from 2005 to 2010 [
10
]. Most of this increase
was accounted for by an increase in the proportion of emissions assigned to methane.
Expressed as a proportion of total global emissions for 2010 for both the IPCC and WRI
data sources (49 and 46.64 Gt, respectively) results in overall percentages of 16.5 and 17.4%
(Table 1, columns A and B).
If the IPCC is the FAO’s new favoured data source the conclusion is that between 2005
and 2010 the proportion of GHGs contributed by animal agriculture rose from 14.5% to
16.5%. For reasons unknown the FAO made no major announcement to say that their new
GLEAM 2.0 data revealed the 14.5% figure to be dated. The new lowest figure ought to be
16.5%, even though this retains the problem of relying on data that are over 10 years old.
The FAO achieved considerable media coverage for the first two reports [
1
,
2
] but there was
no announcement for GLEAM 2.0. Furthermore, as recently as September 2018 (after the
publication of GLEAM 2.0), two FAO authors from the second report were still using the
14.5% figure [14].
If the rate of animal agricultural emissions has grown faster than that of total global
emissions since 2010, then the percentage proportion will now be higher than 16.5%. Using
WRI data, total global emissions have grown from 46.64 Gt in 2010 to 49.95 Gt in 2017 [
12
],
an increase of 7.1%. Whilst the FAO have not yet updated their analysis of 2010 data with
a GLEAM 3.0, their own data show that farmed cattle production (the farming of which
produces the highest amount of GHGs owing to land use changes and enteric fermentation)
has grown globally from 1.411 billion live animals in 2010 to 1.477 billion live animals
in 2017, a 4.7% increase [
15
]. Whilst some farmers may have attempted to instigate the
efficiency recommendations of the two FAO reports, authors involved in these reports
have since indicated that adoption rates are low, calling into question the rationality of
their efficiency framing [
16
]. An increase of 66 million cattle may have increased the 8.1 Gt
CO
2
-eq reported for 2010 [
10
]. During the same period, the number of chickens farmed
increased from 20.228 to 25.077 billion, a 24% increase [
15
], impacting land used for feed
production. Furthermore, using the FAO’s own data on deforestation, South America lost
2.6 million hectares of forest every year in the 2010–2020 period, and globally, 10 million
hectares were lost annually in 2015–2020 [
17
]. Significant parts of that deforestation have
been to cultivate animal feed, contributing to the AA–GHGs link.
These points highlight the land use dimension of the AA–GHGs link, analysed in
more detail by recent studies [
18
20
]. These raise question marks over whether either
FAO report fully accounted for land use changes related to animal agriculture. The second
Sustainability 2021,13, 6276 5 of 8
report makes clear that “Both assessments include emissions related to land use change
from deforestation for pasture and feed crops and limit the scope of the analysis to the
Latin American region” [
2
] (p. 106) and that the two reports use different reference
periods, spanning 1990–2010 in total [
2
]. The second report limited its analysis of feed
crop expansion to soybean cultivation in Brazil and Argentina, whereas the first included
all feed crop expansion in Brazil and Bolivia. This temporal, spatial and feed-crop type
delimiting fails to account for the global scale of carbon sink loss via deforestation related to
animal agriculture. Deforestation in other parts of the world is also linked to the economic
expansion of animal agriculture. For example, in Australia beef production has been linked
to 94% of all forest clearing in the Great Barrier Reef catchment areas between 2013 and
2018 with some of the remainder due to sheep production. A total of 1.6 million hectares
were cleared in Queensland during the same time period [
21
]. One study [
19
] found that
the FAO [
2
] had underestimated land use-related emissions from the dairy and beef sector.
These additional points question the accuracy of the new lowest figure presented here
of 16.5% as the contribution of animal agriculture to all emissions. Although research on
the AA–GHG link has expanded significantly, few studies offer estimates of percentage
contribution of animal agriculture to overall emissions. As an exception, one study paid
particular attention to the issue of land use change and the degree of mitigation that could
be achieved via a global switch to plant-based diets. The authors calculated that “the
land no longer required for food production could remove 8.1 billion metric tons of CO
2
from the atmosphere each year over 100 years as natural vegetation re-establishes and soil
carbon re-accumulates” [20] (p. 991).
The authors later clarified that their “no animal products” scenario delivers a 28%
reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors of the economy relative to
2010 emissions [
22
]. This estimate of 28% makes a fuller attempt to calculate the mitigation
potential of land carbon sinks than either FAO report, but it is worth noting that it uses a
different data source, the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR),
for total global emissions data. It constitutes the largest (peer reviewed) percentage figure
for the contribution of animal agriculture to total GHG emissions. In a broader context, a
recent study [
9
] based on 2015 data found that 34% of global GHG emissions come from
the food system as a whole, though with a range between 25 and 42%.
For emissions from animal agriculture, we have a potential range between 16.5 and
28.1% based on the FAO GLEAM 2.0 estimate [
10
] presented here and Poore and Neme-
cek [
20
,
22
] (Table 1). Given the shortcomings of the second FAO report [
2
], the number
may not be as low as 16.5%, which should be seen as a new minimum. Critics of Poore and
Nemecek [
20
] might argue that global transition to plant-based diets is politically highly
challenging. This is clearly true, but it does not detract from the importance of producing
more accurate estimates to inform research and policy. This analysis finds fault with the
FAO in this regard.
4. Discussion
Total GHGs remain on an upward trajectory. Whether the proportion of animal
agriculture-related emissions within it is also increasing awaits further data. However,
such figures convey the conundrum for advocates of the sustainable intensification of
animal agriculture. If efficiency is the policy—especially when adoption rates are low [
16
]—
economic growth will outpace any emissions savings. The urgency of the climate crisis
should logically demand the approach that can secure decreased emissions faster. It may
be countered that both production efficiencies and reducing demand for consumption
should be enacted, but the FAO have directed all of their attention to the first option. This
places their work [
1
,
2
,
10
] in a difficult position because it has acted to embed the efficiency
framing as the solution that should be favoured by the UN and national governments.
This could appear as a form of protectionism. The FAO’s tendency to assume demand for
animal products leaves it at odds with other UN agencies that have explored the potential
Sustainability 2021,13, 6276 6 of 8
for reducing animal consumption [
23
,
24
]. What sort of explanation could be offered for
this discrepancy?
The broad debate about emissions from animal agriculture is highly politically charged,
as with other high emissions sectors. Different forms of bias can potentially be identified
with various positions. The FAO work [
1
,
2
,
10
] is not peer reviewed in a conventional
sense because it is not published in scientific journals. This should be remedied for future
FAO emissions work, which should be peer reviewed by climate scientists external to the
epistemological community of animal production scientists. Other non-peer reviewed
work [
25
] has produced far larger estimates of the percentage contribution of emissions
from animal emissions. When corporate interests seek out the lowest possible estimate
and advocacy organizations are drawn to the highest, the debate is at risk of descending
into a highly unsatisfactory fog of confirmation bias. The FAO work appears to be a
concerted attempt to produce useful emissions estimates from what are multiple and
complex datasets. However, its unexplained loyalty to an efficiency framing could be
suggestive of a form of epistemological bias.
It is a basic insight from the sociology of science that scientific communities are not
always distinct from commercial interests. As previous research has shown [
26
,
27
], this
is certainly the case in the animal production sciences, which directly seek to improve
the profitability of the sector, for example, via genomic or feed-related research. The FAO
work on emissions has been carried out by the FAO division on Animal Production and
Health, which consists of animal scientists who are exactly part of this epistemological
community. Although the FAO has clearly played an important role in bringing to light
the environmental costs of animal production with its two reports [
1
,
2
], the community of
animal production sciences has an understandable commitment to a normative view of
animal agriculture as a social good, which may impede its ability to be inclusive of policy
advocating for the downsizing of the sector. Indeed, the Animal Production and Health
division [
28
], as its name suggests, is explicitly mandated to “support countries to sustain-
ably grow the livestock sector” and it supports “sustainable livestock production” in the
service of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, also framing the sector as indispensable
for food security in developing countries. Although the arguments around these claims are
beyond the scope of this article, the enmeshment of the FAO Animal Production and Health
division within this epistemological community does offer one explanation as to why this
UN body (and only this UN body) continues to avoid recommending dietary transition
as an important response to the climate, and other environmental, impacts of the sector.
Further analyses [
29
,
30
] have been critical of the FAO division for allowing industry groups,
such as the International Feed Industry Federation and the International Meat Secretariat,
to influence their GLEAM methodology via the FAO’s formation of a partnership with
private stakeholders, known as the Livestock Assessment and Performance Partnership
(LEAP). Almiron [
30
] has been specifically critical of the FAO for allowing the two main
lobbyists of the EU meat industry, the UECBV (European Livestock and Meat Trades Union)
and CLITRAVI (Liaison Centre for the Meat Processing Industry), to become stakeholders
within LEAP. These issues speak to important considerations of neutrality and raise the
possibility that elements of the meat industry have been able to exert undue influence upon
the formation of the environmental assessment tools for their own industry. The symbolic
power of the UN and the political influence of the FAO on the issue of emissions from
animal agriculture should not be underestimated.
5. Conclusions
This re-examination of FAO data alongside its juxtaposition with more recent work
focused on the land use impacts of the global farmed animal sector serves to redefine the
lowest percentage number and raises a question over why the FAO did not produce a new
percentage figure based on their most recent analysis [
10
]. Some will contest the importance
of a few percentage points. Yet even the difference between 14.5 and 16.5% is the difference
between animal agriculture being responsible for close to one in seven, or one in six of all
Sustainability 2021,13, 6276 7 of 8
emissions. Certainly, the findings presented here show that scientists, policy makers, civil
society, and journalists should stop using the 14.5% figure. In what is a highly controversial
and politically charged sector of climate science, an announcement of even a small increase
would have had important social, political, and economic symbolism. Percentage numbers
take on social and political importance, shaping policy, and are reminders of the significance
of societal reflection upon the framings that emerge around them. That the authors of these
FAO reports have been so clear to embed an efficiency framing contrasts sharply with the
more transformatory social and dietary change that others [
31
35
] argue is vital to address
the contemporary urgency to reduce emissions.
Funding: This research received no external funding.
Institutional Review Board Statement: Not applicable.
Informed Consent Statement: Not applicable.
Data Availability Statement: Not applicable.
Conflicts of Interest: The author declares no conflict of interest.
References
1.
Steinfeld, H.; Gerber, P.J.; Wassenaar, T.; Castel, V.; Rosales, M.; De Haan, C. Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and
Options; FAO: Rome, Italy, 2006.
2.
Gerber, P.J.; Steinfeld, H.; Henderson, B.; Mottet, A.; Opio, C.; Dijkman, J.; Falcucci, A.; Tempio, G. Tackling Climate Change Through
Livestock—A Global Assessment of Emissions and Mitigation Opportunities; FAO: Rome, Italy, 2013.
3.
Ripple, W.J.; Smith, P.; Haberl, H.; Montzka, S.A.; McAlpine, C.; Boucher, D.H. Ruminants, climate change and climate policy.
Nat. Clim. Chang. 2014,4, 2–5. [CrossRef]
4.
Eisler, M.C.; Lee, M.R.F.; Tarlton, J.F.; Martin, G.B.; Beddington, J.; Dungait, J.; Greathead, H.; Liu, J.; Mathew, S.; Miller, H.; et al.
Agriculture: Steps to sustainable livestock. Nature 2014,507, 32–34. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
5.
Animal agriculture is choking the Earth and making us sick. We must act now. Available online: https://www.theguardian.com/
commentisfree/2017/dec/04/animal-agriculture-choking- earth-making-sick-climate-food-environmental-impact-james-
cameron-suzy-amis-cameron (accessed on 15 January 2021).
6.
Veganuary: What is a vegan and what do vegans eat? Available online: https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/45274517 (accessed
on 15 January 2021).
7.
Willett, W.; Rockström, J.; Loken, B.; Springmann, M.; Lang, T.; Vermeulen, S.; Garnett, T.; Tilman, D.; DeClerck, F.; Wood, A.; et al.
Food in the Anthropocene: The EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. Lancet
2019
,393,
447–492. [CrossRef]
8.
Tubiello, F.N.; Salvatore, M.; Rossi, S.; Ferrara, A.; Fitton, N.; Smith, P. The FAOSTAT database of greenhouse gas emissions from
agriculture. Environ. Res. Lett. 2013,8, 15009. [CrossRef]
9.
Crippa, M.; Solazzo, E.; Guizzardi, D.; Monforti-Ferrario, F.; Tubiello, F.N.; Leip, A. Food systems are responsible for a third of
global anthropogenic GHG emissions. Nat. Food 2021,2, 198–209. [CrossRef]
10. Available online: http://www.fao.org/gleam/en/ (accessed on 1 May 2021).
11.
Available online: https://archive.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg3/en/spmsspm-b.html (accessed on 15 January 2021).
12.
Available online: https://www.climatewatchdata.org/data-explorer/historical-emissions?historical-emissions-data-sources=
cait&historical-emissions-gases=all-ghg&historical-emissions-regions=All%20Selected&historical-emissions-sectors=total-
including-lucf&page=1 (accessed on 15 January 2021).
13.
Available online: https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/ipcc_wg3_ar5_technical-summary.pdf (accessed on 15
January 2021).
14.
Mottet, A.; Steinfeld, H. Cars or livestock: Which contribute more to climate change? 2018. Available online: https://news.trust.
org/item/20180918083629-d2wf0 (accessed on 1 May 2021).
15. FAOSTAT. FAO. Available online: http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/ (accessed on 15 January 2021).
16.
Herrero, M.; Henderson, B.; Havlik, P.; Thornton, P.K.; Conant, R.T.; Smith, P.; Wirsenius, S.; Hristov, A.N.; Gerber, P.;
Gill, P.S.M.; et al. Greenhouse gas mitigation potentials in the livestock sector. Nat. Clim. Chang. 2016,6, 452–461. [CrossRef]
17.
Available online: http://www.fao.org/americas/noticias/ver/en/c/1274254/#:~{}:text=New%20FAO%20report%20highlights%
20that,to%20the%20ten%20previous%20years (accessed on 15 January 2021).
18.
Hayek, M.N.; Harwatt, H.; Ripple, W.J.; Mueller, N.D. The carbon opportunity cost of animal-sourced food production on land.
Nat. Sustain. 2021,4, 21–24. [CrossRef]
19.
Searchinger, T.D.; Wirsenius, S.; Beringer, T.; Dumas, P. Assessing the efficiency of changes in land use for mitigating climate
change. Nature 2018,564, 249–253. [CrossRef]
Sustainability 2021,13, 6276 8 of 8
20.
Poore, J.; Nemecek, T. Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science
2018
,360, 987–992.
[CrossRef]
21.
Beef industry linked to 94% of land clearing in Great Barrier Reef catchments. Available online: https://www.theguardian.com/
australia-news/2019/aug/08/beef-industry-linked-to-94-of-land-clearing-in-great-barrier-reef-catchments (accessed on 15
January 2021).
22.
Poore, J.; Nemecek, T. Available online: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6429/eaaw9908 (accessed on 15 January
2021).
23.
IPCC. Summary for Policymakers. In Climate Change and Land: An IPCC Special Report on Climate Change; Desertification, Land
Degradation, Sustainable Land Management, Food Security, and Greenhouse Gas Fluxes in Terrestrial Ecosystems; Shukla, P.R., Skea, J.,
Calvo Buendia, E., Masson-Delmotte, V., Pörtner, H.-O., Roberts, D.C., Zhai, P., Slade, R., Connors, S., van Diemen, R., et al., Eds.;
IPCC: Geneva, Switzerland, 2019.
24. UNEP. Emissions Gap Report; UNEP: Nairobi, Kenya, 2020.
25.
Goodland, R.; Anhang, J. Livestock and Climate Change: What If the Key Actors in Climate Change were Pigs, Chickens, and Cows;
Worldwatch Institute: Washington, DC, USA, 2009.
26. Twine, R. Animals as Biotechnology—Ethics, Sustainability and Critical Animal Studies; Routledge: London, UK, 2010.
27. Twine, R. Searching for the ‘Win-Win’? Animals, Genomics and Welfare. Int. J. Sociol. Agr. Food 2007,15, 8–25. [CrossRef]
28. Available online: http://www.fao.org/agriculture/animal-production-and-health/en/ (accessed on 1 May 2021).
29.
Lazarus, O.; McDermid, S.; Jacquet, J. The climate responsibilities of industrial meat and dairy producers. Clim. Chang.
2021
,165,
30. [CrossRef]
30.
Almiron, N. Meat Taboo: Climate Change and the EU meat lobby. In Meatsplaining—The Animal Agriculture Industry and the
Rhetoric of Denial; Hannan, J., Ed.; Sydney University Press: Sydney, Australia, 2020; pp. 163–185.
31.
Theurl, M.C.; Lauk, C.; Kalt, G.; Mayer, A.; Kaltenegger, K.; Morais, T.G.; Teixeira, R.F.; Domingos, T.; Winiwarter, W.; Erb, K.-H.;
et al. Food systems in a zero-deforestation world: Dietary change is more important than intensification for climate targets in
2050. Sci. Total. Environ. 2020,735, 139353. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
32.
Clark, M.A.; Domingo, N.G.G.; Colgan, K.; Thakrar, S.K.; Tilman, D.; Lynch, J.; Azevedo, I.L.; Hill, J.D. Global food system
emissions could preclude achieving the 1.5and 2 C climate change targets. Science 2020,370, 705–708. [CrossRef]
33.
Springmann, M.; Clark, M.; Mason-D’Croz, D.; Wiebe, K.; Bodirsky, B.L.; Lassaletta, L.; De Vries, W.; Vermeulen, S.J.; Herrero, M.;
Carlson, K.M.; et al. Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits. Nature
2018
,562, 519–525. [CrossRef]
[PubMed]
34.
Kim, B.F.; Santo, R.; Scatterday, A.P.; Fry, J.P.; Synk, C.M.; Cebron, S.R.; Mekonnen, M.M.; Hoekstra, A.Y.; de Pee, S.;
Bloem, M.W.; et al. Country-specific dietary shifts to mitigate climate and water crises. Glob. Environ. Chang.
2020
,62,
101926. [CrossRef]
35.
Bowles, N.; Alexander, S.; Hadjikakou, M. The livestock sector and planetary boundaries: A ‘limits to growth’ perspective with
dietary implications. Ecol. Econ. 2019,160, 128–136. [CrossRef]
... Looking at these challenges, agri-food is one of the most resource-intensive industries that has a profound impact on the environment due to its production, packaging, transportation and consumption activities (Bryngelsson et al., 2016;Erb et al., 2016). Contemporary research specifically highlights the high environmental footprint in the production of meat, dairy and seafood and recommends a global transition to a predominantly plant-based diet (Erb et al., 2016; Castañ e and Ant on, 2017; Lu et al., 2019;Twine, 2021). ...
... is currently associated with livestock production, contributing significantly to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, land degradation, soil erosion, deforestation, biodiversity loss, the contamination of surface and groundwater due to poor waste management and soil salinisation (Van Mierlo et al., 2017;Lu et al., 2019;Twine, 2021). Indeed, studies suggest that 18% of global GHG emissions can be attributed to animal agriculture, which is a larger percentage than that of the transport sector in its entirety (Arrieta and Gonz alez, 2018;Twine, 2021). ...
... is currently associated with livestock production, contributing significantly to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, land degradation, soil erosion, deforestation, biodiversity loss, the contamination of surface and groundwater due to poor waste management and soil salinisation (Van Mierlo et al., 2017;Lu et al., 2019;Twine, 2021). Indeed, studies suggest that 18% of global GHG emissions can be attributed to animal agriculture, which is a larger percentage than that of the transport sector in its entirety (Arrieta and Gonz alez, 2018;Twine, 2021). Greater awareness of these issues has led to heightened interest in environmentally friendly food consumption and dietary preferences (Notarnicola et al., 2017;Van Mierlo et al., 2017), with consumersincluding omnivoresbecoming increasingly aware of the negative environmental and health consequences related to the consumption of animal products (Castañ e and Ant on, 2017; Martinelli and Canio, 2021). ...
Article
Purpose Of all industries, agri-food has one of the largest environmental impacts. Reducing the production and consumption of meat, dairy and seafood, and moving to predominantly plant-based diets, is key to lowering our environmental footprint. Veg-friendly restaurants play a key role in this transition as they have the capacity to build a greener dining scene (e.g. positively change consumer opinions towards vegan food). Hence, the purpose of this paper is to understand the entrepreneurial journey of veg-friendly restaurateurs. Design/methodology/approach The authors employed an inductive-qualitative approach to analyse 12 veg-friendly restaurants in three countries (Spain, Australia and Colombia). In addition to inspecting available data on the restaurants and their menus, semi-structured interviews were conducted with the restaurateurs to uncover (1) the impact of their venture for customers and society, (2) the drivers to establishing their businesses and (3) the challenges faced and strategies used in the management of veg-friendly restaurants. Findings This work recognises veg-friendly restaurateurs as key actors in building a sustainable future through a greener dining scene. The authors uncover the main drivers of the entrepreneurial journey and propose a multi-dimensional approach to identity and passion as key antecedents of entrepreneurial intention. The authors also discuss how social and sustainable entrepreneurship may be the expression of an activist behaviour. Finally, challenges and strategies to manage veg-friendly restaurants are discussed with directions that contribute to both theory and practice. Originality/value A switch towards vegan and vegetarian diets has important implications for ecology, society and the economy. While most research has focused on the consumer side, this paper is unique in understanding how veg-friendly restaurants emerge. This is quite distinctive in the literature regarding sustainable restaurants, which until now, has focused on the managers' adoption of sustainable practices rather than the restaurateurs' entrepreneurial journey. This work additionally builds new insights in the entrepreneurship literature, through uncovering the motivations, experiences and challenges of entrepreneurs that, in most cases, show activist attributes.
... Food production is one of the main culprits of current environmental problems. Livestock is among the food sectors that have the strongest impact on the environment, accounting alone for 16.5% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions (Twine, 2021). Nevertheless, a transition toward a more sustainable livestock industry is not enough to significantly reduce the environmental footprint of food production if this change is not accompanied by a reduction of meat consumption (Twine, 2021). ...
... Livestock is among the food sectors that have the strongest impact on the environment, accounting alone for 16.5% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions (Twine, 2021). Nevertheless, a transition toward a more sustainable livestock industry is not enough to significantly reduce the environmental footprint of food production if this change is not accompanied by a reduction of meat consumption (Twine, 2021). More broadly, we need a transition towards a more sustainable diet, which can be defined as a diet including foods produced with little environmental impact (Tilman and Clark, 2014;Schmidt and Mouritsen, 2020). ...
... This diet can be exemplified as mainly composed of plant-based food (e.g. Baroni et al., 2007;Schmidt and Mouristen, 2020;Twine, 2021), low consumption of meat and animal products, and the introduction of alternative sources of protein (de Boer et al., 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose The present research aimed to understand how to predict and promote plant-based meat (PBM) consumption. Design/methodology/approach In Study 1 ( N = 550), the authors investigated the psychosocial antecedents of the intentions to add PBM and to replace animal meat with PBM. In Study 2 ( N = 390), the authors tested the effectiveness of different environmental messages promoting PBM consumption. The authors compared the effects of an addition message condition (i.e. a message promoting the addition of PBM to one's diet), a replacement message condition (i.e. a message promoting the replacement of animal meat with PBM) and a control condition (i.e. no message). In both studies, the authors considered the moderation of past PBM consumption (PMB eaters vs PBM noneaters). Findings Study 1 showed that a positive attitude towards eating PBM and a high awareness of the environmental consequences of meat production were key antecedents of participants' intention to eat PBM. The role of the other psychosocial antecedents varied according to past PBM consumption. Study 2 showed that both addition and replacement messages increased non-PBM eaters' positive attitude towards eating PBM and in turn willingness to pay for PBM. Instead, only replacement messages increased PBM eaters' willingness to pay for PBM. Originality/value The present research developed a model integrating the key psychosocial predictors of people's intentions to eat PBM. Furthermore, it is the first research that compared the persuasiveness of different environment messages to promote PBM consumption.
... Using the life-cycle approach, it has been estimated that livestock accounts for approx. 14.5% to 16.5% of the world's anthropogenic GHG emissions, with dairy production accounting for about 20% of this value [2][3][4]. The problem is, however, quite complicated because it requires the simultaneous provision of sufficient food for more and more people in the world, and on the other hand, not so much as not increasing, but even reducing the environmental burden associated with food production [5]. ...
... For example, elements of undigested feed may generate emissions at a later stage (e.g., during storage [12,13]), or planting a given type of feed may reduce GHG from agriculture by sequestering CO 2 in agricultural soils [6,14]. Changes in soil carbon content and their impact on GHG emissions (and carbon footprint) are currently not sufficiently defined, mainly due to the lack of a uniform methodology and the high complexity of the various cultivation processes [2]. ...
Article
Full-text available
The aim of the study is to draw attention to the fact that reducing methane and nitrous oxide emissions as a result of traditional manure storage for several months in a pile is not only a non-ecological solution, but also unprofitable. A solution that combines both aspects—environmental and financial—is the use of manure as a substrate for a biogas plant, but immediately—directly after its removal from the dairy barn. As part of the case study, the energy and economic balance of a model farm with dairy farming for the scenario without biogas plant and with a biogas plant using manure as the main substrate in methane fermentation processes was also performed. Research data on the average emission of ammonia and nitrous oxide from 1 Mg of stored manure as well as the results of laboratory tests on the yield of biogas from dairy cows manure were obtained on the basis of samples taken from the farm being a case study. The use of a biogas installation would allow the emission of carbon dioxide equivalent to be reduced by up to 100 Mg per year. In addition, it has been shown that the estimated payback period for biogas installations is less than 5 years, and with the current trend of increasing energy prices, it may be even shorter—up to 4 years.
... In 2007, the world's manufacture of roughly 293 million tonnes of meat per year, "account[ed] for nearly 80% of the entire industrial agricultural sector's [greenhouse-gas] emissions" (McMichael et al., 2007 p.55). Roughly a decadelater, global meat production reaches 340 million tonnes in a single year, equating to 16.5 percent of all anthropogenic GHG emissions, and continues to escalate(Ritchie and Roser, 2019;Twine, 2021). Concerned with the coinciding global population swell, Weis concludes that the biophysical limitations of planet Earth cannot support such a methodology any longer, which raises concerns about global food security and planetary sustainability at large. ...
Book
Full-text available
This book is the work that resulted from the symposium, much of it with amazing imagery and all of it with depth, care, and insight. The symposium was under the broad theme of More Just and More Sustainable Futures and the 2021 subtheme of Multiple Ecologies, Diverse Ontologies. Diverse is the keyword here where the work talks about topics as wide-ranging as industrial-scale meat production, Brazilian Savannahs, and Smart Cities. ֍Ecotonalities: Sound Practices for Listening with the Inhuman by Nik Forrest ֍The hidden and forgotten cerrado plants in São Paulo by André S. Bailão ֍Sirens: Crossing Thresholds of Multi-Entity Ethics by Kate Paxman ֍Musicking with Tapyra’yawara: Ecomusicologies from the Amazon Rainforest by Karine Aguiar de Sousa Saunier ֍Becoming World: Reimagining the Material Self by Julie Gemuend ֍The cry of Merlin: The self-confessional and self-judgemental lament for dismembered landscapes, riverscapes, skyscapes, and oceanscapes in the language of Wilson Harris’s fictional narratives by Shareed Mohammed ֍On touching A moving image story of a collaboration with a total eclipse of the sun by Emilio Chapela ֍Trauma, Embodiment, Water: A Story about the Making of Blue by Laura Magnusson ֍Spiritual Sustainability: Pagan Sounds and the Impacts of Devotion on Sustainable Practices by Isaiah Green ֍Wet Ontologies by Dr. Laura Denning & Dr. Deepta Sateesh ֍Toward Making Meat Matter: Entanglements of industrial animal-agriculture, modern design, power, and oppression by Alexandra Kenefick
... White arrows indicate interactions between compartments. 123 2 Grassland agriculture 124 The global livestock sector is responsible for about 8.1 Gt of CO2-e yr -1 ; about 16.5% of global 125 anthropogenic GHG emissions (Twine, 2021). Livestock farming has been intensifying 126 globally, including the conversion of natural grassland to pasture, with potential negative 127 effects on global temperatures, cancelling out the cooling effect of increased grassland carbon 128 environments: a review. ...
Article
Full-text available
The climate crisis has caused considerable changes in boreal areas with the melting of permafrost exposing landscapes previously unavailable to agriculture. Milder, shorter winters, increased atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHG) offer substantial opportunities for agriculture across vast landscapes. Given the burgeoning global human population, such nascent landscapes may play a significant role in insuring future food security. Although arable cropping systems are growing in popularity in these areas, the agricultural mainstay in boreal areas will likely continue to be livestock production systems for the foreseeable future. When properly calibrated, well validated and suited to application, simulation models can produce sufficiently accurate data for agricultural land-use planning and improving farm-level productivity while minimising impacts on the environment and natural capital. Such models are often used to identify interactions between plant and animal productivity as well as drivers and quantities of GHG emissions, soil carbon stocks and sequestration, and fertiliser use and losses. While models designed for temperate and tropical agro-ecological zones abound, models developed specifically for boreal zones are in their infancy. As such, there is considerable uncertainty around the accuracy and suitability of such models in boreal areas. Here, we reviewed the performance of extant livestock production systems and GHG flux models in their ability to simulate GHG emissions and associated environmental and management drivers across a range of boreal environments and management systems. We identified a substantial dearth of modelling studies in Boreal regions, with three or less papers published per year since the year 2000; in many years, there were no modelling studies at all. In light of this result, we show that there is significant scope for model validation in boreal regions using field measurements of biomass, animal liveweight gains and GHG emissions, both for individual models as well as in multi-model comparisons. This work would facilitate identification of sub-model processes underpinning superior model performance, as well as opportunities for model parsimonisation by simplifying complexity where algorithms do not contribute significantly to reliable model performance. We also found that conversion from cropland to grassland and conversion to no-tillage offered key opportunities for reducing net GHG emissions and increasing C sequestration. Through assessing validation results from the literature we show that the models IFSM and BASGRA_N had the highest validation performance in terms of grassland production, while DNDC and was the most reliable in terms of predicting N2 O and NH3 emissions, and this may be further improved by using the DNDC v.Can model. These results suggest that no model outperformed all others for all metrics, suggesting that the use of an array of models may produce more reliable results for the metric of interest. Finally, we suggest that both conceptual and mathematical mechanisms used in these models would be worthy of further investigation and comparison, allowing improvement of future models designed for boreal systems.
... It is essential for the production of meat, dairy, and agricultural dung, and has a significant effect on regional stability and improving livelihoods [1]. The animal production industry is thought to contribute up to 16.5% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which have become a major concern in recent decades [2,3]. Enteric fermentation and feed production activities, which account for almost 45% of the sector's overall emissions, are the main source of GHG emissions in ruminant agriculture [4]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Alternative feed sources can be utilized to reduce enteric methane (CH4) emissions, a major greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. This study aimed to evaluate the potential use of tropical plants to improve digestibility, reduce protozoal populations, improve rumen fermentation, and minimize methane emissions from ruminants. The plants considered herein grow in tropical climates, are easily accessible in large quantities, and are directly related to human food production. Nine plants that grow naturally in tropical climates were assessed. Plant supplementation substantially enhanced accumulative gas production at 24 h (p < 0.05). The apparent organic matter digestibility (AOMDvt) of the diet was not affected by five of the nine plants. With the addition of the plant material, ammonia nitrogen concentrations were reduced by up to 47% and methane concentrations were reduced by 54%. Five of the nine plant materials reduced methane production in terms of CH4/dry matter and CH4/digestibility of the organic matter by 15–35% and 8–24%, respectively. In conclusion, supplementation with plants with high tannin contents was shown to be a viable strategy for improving rumen fermentation, reducing protozoal populations, and limiting methane emissions. In this regard, the leaves of Piper sarmentosum, Acmella oleracea, Careya arborea, and Anacardium occidentale were especially promising
Chapter
Meat production involves a range of harms to animals and the environment. There is thus a good case to move away from meat production in our food system. However, people value meat, and this gives us both principled and pragmatic reasons to pursue food systems without the animal farming of today's food system, but which still incorporate meat (or meat-like products). However, meat alternatives also raise ethical questions. After exploring the case for adopting meat alternatives (relative to both a system incorporating slaughter-based meat and a fully plant-based system), this chapter reviews some of the ethical challenges raised by three possible meat alternatives: Plant-based meat, cultivated meat, and insects.
Article
Animal agriculture contributes significantly to global warming through ongoing emissions of the potent greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide, and displacement of biomass carbon on the land used to support livestock. However, because estimates of the magnitude of the effect of ending animal agriculture often focus on only one factor, the full potential benefit of a more radical change remains underappreciated. Here we quantify the full “climate opportunity cost” of current global livestock production, by modeling the combined, long-term effects of emission reductions and biomass recovery that would be unlocked by a phaseout of animal agriculture. We show that, even in the absence of any other emission reductions, persistent drops in atmospheric methane and nitrous oxide levels, and slower carbon dioxide accumulation, following a phaseout of livestock production would, through the end of the century, have the same cumulative effect on the warming potential of the atmosphere as a 25 gigaton per year reduction in anthropogenic CO 2 emissions, providing half of the net emission reductions necessary to limit warming to 2°C. The magnitude and rapidity of these potential effects should place the reduction or elimination of animal agriculture at the forefront of strategies for averting disastrous climate change.
Article
Full-text available
Our view of responsibility for climate change has expanded to include the actions of firms, particularly fossil fuel producers. Yet analysis of animal agriculture’s role in climate change—estimated as 14.5% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions—has mainly focused on the sector as a whole. Here we examine the world’s 35 largest meat and dairy companies for their commitments to mitigating climate change and find four companies that have made an explicit commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050. In general, these commitments emphasized mitigating energy use, with minimal focus on emissions (e.g., methane) from animal and land use, which make the biggest warming contributions in the agricultural sector. We also compare the companies’ projected global emissions under a business-as-usual scenario to their headquarter countries’ future emissions, assuming each country’s compliance with their commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement. Taking this view of responsibility and emissions accounting (which is not the conception of responsibility in the Paris Agreement), our results show that including industrial meat and dairy producers’ full global emissions in national accounting would impact national targets for greenhouse gas reductions. As examples, by our calculations, two companies—Fonterra in New Zealand, and Nestlé in Switzerland—would make up more than 100% of their headquarter country’s total emissions target in the coming decade. Finally, we evaluated using 20 yes-or-no questions and a variety of sources the transparency of emissions reporting, mitigation commitments, and influence on public opinion and politics of the 10 US meat and dairy companies. According to the evidence we collected, all 10 US companies have contributed to efforts to undermine climate-related policies. Each of these analyses approaches responsibility in new and different ways. Under the swiftly changing social conditions provoked by climate change, we can expect new imaginings of responsibility for GHG emissions, as well as increased attention to the role of corporate actors and their accountability for climate change impacts.
Article
Full-text available
We have developed a new global food emissions database (EDGAR-FOOD) estimating greenhouse gas (GHG; CO2, CH4, N2O, fluorinated gases) emissions for the years 1990–2015, building on the Emissions Database of Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR), complemented with land use/land-use change emissions from the FAOSTAT emissions database. EDGAR-FOOD provides a complete and consistent database in time and space of GHG emissions from the global food system, from production to consumption, including processing, transport and packaging. It responds to the lack of detailed data for many countries by providing sectoral contributions to food-system emissions that are essential for the design of effective mitigation actions. In 2015, food-system emissions amounted to 18 Gt CO2 equivalent per year globally, representing 34% of total GHG emissions. The largest contribution came from agriculture and land use/land-use change activities (71%), with the remaining were from supply chain activities: retail, transport, consumption, fuel production, waste management, industrial processes and packaging. Temporal trends and regional contributions of GHG emissions from the food system are also discussed. Data on GHG emissions from the food system are mostly scattered across sectors and remain unavailable in many countries. EDGAR-FOOD, a globally consistent food emission database, brings together emissions from food-related land use and land-use change, production, processing, distribution, consumption and residues over 1990–2015 at country level.
Article
Full-text available
Extensive land uses to meet dietary preferences incur a ‘carbon opportunity cost’ given the potential for carbon sequestration through ecosystem restoration. Here we map the magnitude of this opportunity, finding that shifts in global food production to plant-based diets by 2050 could lead to sequestration of 332–547 GtCO2, equivalent to 99–163% of the CO2 emissions budget consistent with a 66% chance of limiting warming to 1.5 °C. Shifting global food production to plant-based diets by 2050 can sequester 99–163% of the CO2 emissions budget towards limiting climate warming to 1.5 °C.
Article
Full-text available
Global food systems contribute to climate change, the transgression of planetary boundaries and deforestation. An improved understanding of the environmental impacts of different food system futures is crucial for forging strategies to sustainably nourish a growing world population. We here quantify the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of global food system scenarios within a biophysically feasible “option space” in 2050 comprising all scenarios in which biomass supply – calculated as function of agricultural area and yields – is sufficient to cover biomass demand – derived from human diets and the feed demand of livestock. We assessed the biophysical feasibility of 520 scenarios in a hypothetical no-deforestation world. For all feasible scenarios, we calculate (in) direct GHG emissions related to agriculture. We also include (possibly negative) GHG emissions from land-use change, including changes in soil organic carbon (SOC) and carbon sinks from vegetation regrowth on land spared from food production. We identify 313 of 520 scenarios as feasible. Agricultural GHG emissions (excluding land use change) of feasible scenarios range from 1.7 to 12.5 Gt CO2e yr⁻¹. When including changes in SOC and vegetation regrowth on spare land, the range is between −10.7 and 12.5 Gt CO2e yr⁻¹. Our results show that diets are the main determinant of GHG emissions, with highest GHG emissions found for scenarios including high meat demand, especially if focused on ruminant meat and milk, and lowest emissions for scenarios with vegan diets. Contrary to frequent claims, our results indicate that diets and the composition and quantity of livestock feed, not crop yields, are the strongest determinants of GHG emissions from food-systems when existing forests are to be protected.
Article
Full-text available
Le changement climatique va accentuer l’insécurité alimentaire, à moins que nous ne changions drastiquement nos manières de produire la nourriture, de la distribuer et de la consommer. Gestion de l’eau, diversification de l’agriculture, structuration des marchés... des solutions permettent d’atténuer les bouleversements en cours et d’améliorer nos capacités de nous y adapter.
Article
Full-text available
Undernutrition, obesity, climate change, and freshwater depletion share food and agricultural systems as an underlying driver. Efforts to more closely align dietary patterns with sustainability and health goals could be better informed with data covering the spectrum of countries characterized by over- and undernutrition. Here, we model the greenhouse gas (GHG) and water footprints of nine increasingly plant-forward diets, aligned with criteria for a healthy diet, specific to 140 countries. Results varied widely by country due to differences in: nutritional adjustments, baseline consumption patterns from which modeled diets were derived, import patterns, and the GHG- and water-intensities of foods by country of origin. Relative to exclusively plant-based (vegan) diets, diets comprised of plant foods with modest amounts of low-food chain animals (i.e., forage fish, bivalve mollusks, insects) had comparably small GHG and water footprints. In 95 percent of countries, diets that only included animal products for one meal per day were less GHG-intensive than lacto-ovo vegetarian diets (in which terrestrial and aquatic meats were eliminated entirely) in part due to the GHG-intensity of dairy foods. The relatively optimal choices among modeled diets otherwise varied across countries, in part due to contributions from deforestation (e.g., for feed production and grazing lands) and highly freshwater-intensive forms of aquaculture. Globally, modest plant-forward shifts (e.g., to low red meat diets) were offset by modeled increases in protein and caloric intake among undernourished populations, resulting in net increases in GHG and water footprints. These and other findings highlight the importance of trade, culture, and nutrition in diet footprint analyses. The country-specific results presented here could provide nutritionally-viable pathways for high-meat consuming countries as well as transitioning countries that might otherwise adopt the Western dietary pattern.
Article
Thought for food To have any hope of meeting the central goal of the Paris Agreement, which is to limit global warming to 2°C or less, our carbon emissions must be reduced considerably, including those coming from agriculture. Clark et al. show that even if fossil fuel emissions were eliminated immediately, emissions from the global food system alone would make it impossible to limit warming to 1.5°C and difficult even to realize the 2°C target. Thus, major changes in how food is produced are needed if we want to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. Science , this issue p. 705
Article
The livestock sector is a key driver of humanity's transgression of several planetary boundaries, with the production of ruminant meat being particularly impactful. Given current trends in demand for animal products, strategies to significantly reduce the livestock sector's environmental impacts are urgently needed. Here we draw on published data to examine livestock's impacts in three key critical sustainability domains within the planetary boundaries framework-climate change, biochemical flows and land-system change, and seek to quantify li-vestock's occupation of humanity's safe operating space now and into the future (2050). We estimate that the livestock sector may already occupy the majority of, or transgress, humanity's safe operating space across these domains, with such impacts forecast to grow by 2050. Furthermore, we explore the potential of reasonably foreseeable technological measures to mitigate the sector's environmental impacts. While such measures are deemed necessary, their effects are unlikely to be sufficient to shrink the scale of livestock's impacts to a sustainable level, as defined by the three planetary boundaries tested. The implication of these findings is that macroeconomic policies promoting both sustainable production and consumption practices are integral to the realisation of a sustainable food system, where humanity functions within its safe operating space.