Greenpeace blame agriculture for gas emissions

25 January 2008

A Greenpeace International report released earlier this month places much of the blame for rising greenhouse gas emissions on agriculture - and specifically on livestock. According the, what the report calls 'enteric fermentation' in ruminant animals contributes the largest amount, about 60%, to global methane emissions from agriculture (the other 40% being generated by rice cultivation and manure). In addition, cultivated acreage releases more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than does land used for grazing. The need to grow crops to feed livestock, then, also contributes greenhouse gasses, the report says.

Overall, lamb and beef have the highest climate impact of all types of meat. Sheep have a global warming potential of 17 kilograms of carbon dioxide for every 1 kilogram of meat produced. Cattle fare somewhat better, with 13 kilograms of carbon dioxide produced for every kilogram of meat yielded. Pigs and poultry, meanwhile, have less than half of that. The solution, Greenpeace suggests, is that more of the world's population need to become vegetarian so that the head count of livestock can drop. However, that's unlikely to happen; developing countries logged a 77% increase in meat consumption in the three decades ended 1990. 

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