Greenhouse gas emissions by the livestock sector could be cut by as much as 30 percent through the wider use of existing best practices and technologies, according to a new study released this week by the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The report, Tackling climate change through livestock: A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities, available at www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3437e/i3437e.pdf, represents a comprehensive estimate of livestock's contribution to global warming - as well as recommendations on 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 percent of all human-caused GHG releases according to the FAO.
With world demand for livestock products continuing to grow strongly in almost all developing countries, said Ren Wang, FAO assistant director-general for Agriculture and Consumer Protection, "it is imperative that the sector starts working now to achieve these reductions, to help offset the increases in overall emissions that future growth in livestock production will entail."
Many of the actions FAO recommends for improving efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions could also boost production.
Currently, livestock raising supports the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people and represents an increasingly important source of protein in many regions that have long struggled with chronic hunger and malnutrition.