Livestocks Role In EU Greenhouse Emissions

EU - ‘Evaluation of the livestock sector’s contribution to the EU greenhouse gas emissions’ was commissioned by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission and estimates emissions from all livestock sectors in Europe.
calendar icon 23 February 2011
clock icon 2 minute read

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) joined other experts in working on the draft which has been issued ahead of the long-awaited update of the FAO report which analyses Greenhouse Gas emissions from the beef industry around the world. However the NFU believes that there is considerable uncertainty associated with the calculation of its results with different methodologies used for different countries in the report.

NFU Director of Policy Martin Haworth said: “This recent evaluation from the EU builds upon previous reports such as the Livestock’s Long Shadow from 2006 which did lead to exaggerated headlines about livestock emissions which we have worked hard to correct ever since.

“Since then a growing body of scientific evidence has moderated many of the “policy conclusions” drawn by certain stakeholders calling for changes to European diets and the much-repeated media mantra of ‘eat less meat to save the planet’.

“It is important to view the evidence and understand the methodology used in this report and we will be looking closely at the conclusions of both these important documents. However it is important not to get drawn into knee-jerk reactions.

"While the report does estimate the GHG emissions from some imports, including Brazilian beef, these calculations use a different methodology to that applied to EU production, suggesting that the results are not directly comparable. We don’t want to fall into the same traps as the FAO before.

“A much smarter way of dealing with emissions and the climate change challenges we face is to build upon our comparative advantage in north-western Europe in grass-based dairy and livestock production rather than reducing production. These grasslands act as a great sink for carbon and there has been wide acceptance that simply exporting the problems of agriculture emissions from the developed to the developing world is not the answer – it is also morally questionable.

“We would argue that part of the solution lies in knowledge transfer to emerging economies with higher agricultural GHG emissions (and a greater carbon footprint) - which can only come about if the UK strategically maintains a strong livestock production sector and the scientific research and development of these key farming sectors.”

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