28th October, 2009 - Posted by admin - 1 Comment
How long is livestock’s shadow?
The Times interviewed Lord Stern recently (Barack Obama must attend Copenhagen climate summit, says Lord Stern). He was a bit controversial saying we should give up meat to save the planet from climate change. In the supporting diagrams the Times gave livestock’s footprint was 9% of total greenhouse gasses.
Stern may have been influenced by a recent report by ex-colleagues at the World Bank. They have produced a report, Livestock and Climate Change, arguing that livestock is a much bigger impact on the climate than previously assumed. Previously the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) had highlighted livestock’s impact on the environment in Livestock’s long shadow: environmental issues and options. This estimates that livestock causes 18% of total greenhouse gas emissions. But the World Bank people say:
Livestock are already well-known to contribute to GHG emissions. Livestock’s Long Shadow, the widely-cited 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), estimates that 7,516 million metric tons per year of CO2 equivalents (CO2e), or 18 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions, are attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, horses, pigs, and poultry. That amount would easily qualify livestock for a hard look indeed in the search for ways to address climate change.
But they continue:
But our analysis shows that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32,564million tons of CO2e per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions.
So the Times says 9%, the UN FAO says 18% and the World bank says 51%.
Watch this space.