Written By: Emma Websdale
Better techniques and practices associated with livestock farming could significantly reduce the sectors environmental impact towards global warming, suggests a new FAO report.
The study, released today from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has identified ways in which meat, increasingly demanded by consumers, can become more sustainably farmed, thus reducing the sector’s overall environmental impact. The study’s proposals for emissions reduction include better practices and technologies in feeding, health and husbandry alongside specific minor breeding adjustments.
According to the FAO, livestock farming makes up 14.5% of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions (7.1 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide). Methane alone accumulates to approximately 144 million tonnes of oil per year – enough to power the whole of South Africa.
The report suggests that livestock improvements can be easily factored into current existing production systems, including manure management and the use of biogas generators and energy-saving devices. Combined, the reports states that these solutions could reduce the sector’s global warming impact by 30%.
“These new findings show that the potential to improve the sector’s environmental performance is significant – and that realizing that potential is indeed doable”, said FAO assistant director general for agriculture and consumer protection, Ren Wang.
“These efficiency gains can be achieved by improving practices, and don’t necessitate changing production systems. But we need political will, better policies and most importantly, joint action.”
The FAO report, regarded as the “most comprehensive estimate made to-date of livestock’s contribution to global warming” also suggests that the reduction in emissions would boost production – providing farmers with increased food yield and higher incomes.
The proactive report follows a recent study from the University of North Carolina, U.S., which suggested the reduction in emissions that contribute towards global warming, could prevent up to 3 million premature deaths a year by 2100.