Study suggests meat and dairy industry on track to surpass oil companies as biggest greenhouse gas emitters

Study suggests meat and dairy industry on track to surpass oil companies as biggest greenhouse gas emitters
Estimated global greenhouse gas emission (GHG) targets to keep within a 1.5°C rise in temperature compared to emissions from global meat and dairy production based on business-as-usual growth projections. Credit: Emissions impossible

Researchers at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and GRAIN have released a report titled "Emissions impossible – How big meat and dairy are heating up the planet." The report is a discussion regarding an analysis the groups did on the impact the meat and dairy industries have on global warming. One of their major findings is that large meat and dairy corporations are set to overtake large oil companies as the largest emitters of greenhouse gases. In the report, the researchers also suggest that it is time to expand the field of corporations that get the major share of attention surrounding global warming. They make the case that that meat and dairy producers have flown under the radar for years, and that now, the time has come to include them.

Researchers for the two groups report that they conducted an extensive review of production numbers released by the largest and and used those numbers to calculate greenhouse gas emissions. They note that very few of the largest meat and dairy corporations offer emissions data and that those that do fail to include data regarding the supply chain. They suggest further that the supply chain in the industry typically accounts for up to 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions—it typically includes emissions from activities related to growing crops as well as methane emitted directly from livestock.

The researchers also report that a very large share of meat and dairy production occurs in just a few regions: Argentina, Brazil, the U.S., the European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They also claim that five of the biggest meat and dairy corporations are already responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than BP, ExxonMobil or Shell. They further claim that their analysis of the industry showed that approximately 80 percent of the global allowable greenhouse gas emissions budget would be taken up by just the meat and dairy industry by 2050, if production is not reduced.

The researchers conclude their report by suggesting that soon there will be no choice—if we are to curb to meet targets set by agreed upon protocols, meat and production will have to be greatly reduced.


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Citation: Study suggests meat and dairy industry on track to surpass oil companies as biggest greenhouse gas emitters (2018, July 20) retrieved 22 November 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-07-meat-dairy-industry-track-surpass.html
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