3rd January, 2011 - Posted by admin - Comments Off
The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) commissioned some good work on the carbon footprints of beef, lamb and other animal products from Dr Adrian Williams at Cranfield University. This work is hard to find on the DEFRA website unless the key code “IS0205” is first obtained from Dr William’s site.
Dr William’s research fonds that 1 kg Beef (dead-weight) has a carbon footprint equal to14 kg CO2e (or 25 kg CO2e if greenhouse gasses are measured over 20 years). Some details can be found in the resources section of the Green Ration Book. The Green Ration Book compares carbon footprints with governemnt targets and estimates a 12oz beef steak to be 5 days of your ration for consumables!
Using the “IS0205” code it is also possible to find a later publication “The Environmental Impact of Livestock Production, a review of research and literature”. This waters down the impact of Dr William’s findings. The Executive summary starts.
“The main domestic livestock sectors produce a wide range of products (food, leather, wool
etc) and public services, such as employment, landscape and cultural heritage. However
livestock production impacts on the environment in a variety of ways, both positive and
negative, but there are some systems where there is greater potential for the environment to
be compromised in order to achieve efficient production. The key is to minimise negative
impacts in the most cost-effective way.”
DEFRA’s downgrading of climate change with employment, landscape and cultural heritage is enhanced by their choice of conversion factor for the methane generated by livestock. DEFRA chooses 21 times CO2, others argue for 105 times CO2, meaning that beef and sheep meat are much worse for the environment than DEFRA argues.
Stop press 4th July 2011:
Cederberg argues that Brazil’s carbon footprint for beef should take deforestation into account. By most estimates, beef exported from Brazil carries a footprint of 28 kg of CO2 per kilogram of beef, which accounts for greenhouse emissions from cow digestion and manure, and from the fuel used to raise the animals. Cederberg calls those estimates “misleading” because adding in deforestation’s effects makes the the country’s beef footprint shoot up to 72 kg, more than double the world average for beef.
“I would expect that a good fraction of the companies that buy Brazilian beef in the European Union would buy less after seeing the higher footprints,” says co-author Roland Clift, an emeritus professor of environmental technology at the University of Surrey, in the U.K.
This study is the first to quantify how much deforestation adds to Brazilian beef’s carbon footprint, says Tara Garnett, who runs the Food Climate Research Network at the University of Surrey, and who was not involved with the study. “Since global demand for meat is rising rapidly, it’s a big concern.”
Tara may be concerned but is Defra?