Meat Production The 'Major Cause' Of Climate Change

Report from scientific journal finds that livestock accounts for about 14.5 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.


According to a recent report published in the January 2014 issue of the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, greenhouse gas emissions from meat production are significant and need to be reduced, calling it a major cause of climate change throughout the world. The report focused on the detrimental effects of meat production on climate change from non-CO2 greenhouse gases emissions, which contribute to about a third of total emissions, of which methane (CH4) is the most abundant of these non-CO2 gases.

Worldwide, livestock accounts for about 14.5 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, with cattle contributing the most. Ruminants like cattle, sheep, goats and buffalo that eat plants and digest them in a multi-chambered stomach contribute 11.6 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. Cattle specifically contribute 9.4 percent.

"As developing countries become wealthier, the demand and production of meat increases and with annual meat production growing rapidly worldwide, this greenhouse gas footprint will continue to grow," says Phil Lempert, founder of Food Nutrition & Science and CEO of The Lempert Report. "Policies are needed to both reduce meat consumption as well as improve agricultural production efficiencies."

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