GRSB commits to reduce net global warming impact of beef by 2030

The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) has committed to reduce the net global warming impact of beef by 30% by 2030 with new global sustainability goals.
calendar icon 1 July 2021
clock icon 5 minute read

The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), has unveiled its global sustainability goals – commitments to advance and improve the sustainability of the global beef value chain. Established by GRSB, the goals will be led and implemented by members of the Roundtable.

One of the biggest challenges facing the world today is climate change and the global beef industry has a key role to play in mitigating it. Through its worldwide network of members, GRSB intends to power progress in sustainable beef by setting ambitious goals around reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving land use, and enhancing best practices in animal welfare.

The three key areas of focus outlined in these goals have been carefully identified to reflect priority areas for advancement and improvement. GRSB’s mission is to ensure that beef maintains a sustainable global supply chain and solidifies its role as part of a sustainable food system.

Climate: reducing global warming impact on a pathway to climate neutrality

GRSB aims to globally reduce by 30% the net global warming impact of each unit of beef by 2030, on a pathway to climate neutrality. In order to support the urgent global ambition of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees by 2030, GRSB members will implement and incentivise climate smart beef production, processing, and trade, while safeguarding and building upon the carbon stores in soil and landscapes.

Reducing atmospheric greenhouse gases requires both emissions reduction and carbon sequestration, making agriculture a key player in positively sequestering carbon in soils – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that grasslands alone could sequester 54 to 216 million tonnes of carbon annually by 2030. Many GRSB members, including all processers and major retailers and several producer organisations, have already set goals that align with the broader GRSB goal.

Roundtable members are also committing to investing in research and development of climate-smart practices, tools, and knowledge. Investment has already been made in areas including detailed analysis of carbon sequestration – members will now look beyond how to manage carbon sequestration and how it can be more effectively measured on an ongoing basis.

Land use: ensuring the beef value chain is a net positive contributor

By 2030, GRSB and its members will ensure the beef value chain is a net positive contributor to nature. The Roundtable’s belief is that sustainable beef production can and should have a net positive impact on nature. In order to achieve this goal, GRSB will work with national and regional roundtables to establish measurement metrics to effectively measure, track, report, and verify progress.

Many producers and farmers are already net positive contributors to nature. GRSB members will finance, source, develop, support, and share practices throughout the entire value chain that are designed to sustain and restore grazing lands, enhance resilience, conserve forests, grasslands, and native vegetation, increase biodiversity, and help reverse ecological decline.

GRSB is working with its members and key stakeholders to eliminate illegal deforestation and illegal conversion as a priority. Beef farmers and ranchers will have access to greater financing from members within the Roundtable and recognition where no contribution to additional deforestation is made.

It is widely recognised that scientific developments will play a huge factor across each goal, hence the investment in research and development. GRSB’s members will encourage adoption of science-based land management practices that will maintain healthier soils, generate additional carbon sequestration, promote efficient water use, and increase biodiversity – protecting flora and fauna.

Animal Health and Welfare: Providing cattle with a good quality of life

Sustainable beef means providing cattle with an environment in which they can thrive – health and welfare are the major contributors to doing so. GRSB members will focus their efforts on continuing to improve the quality of life for cattle, achieved through increased adoption of best practices in disease prevention, treatment measures, cattle handling, and appropriate genetics.

Roundtable members will work together, and alongside beef farmers and ranchers, to encourage continuous learning and adoption of best practices across the beef supply chain that will improve welfare, and increase the ability of cattle to thrive in accordance with the World Organisation for Animal Health. Increasing training opportunities by 25% based on 2020 levels will help ensure responsible practices, such as ensuring comfort, allowing animals to express normal patterns of behaviour, and pain mitigation, are implemented.

GRSB members will develop or adopt practical tracking of the effectiveness of the training, while continuing to focus their efforts on minimising morbidity and mortality with measurable improvements for each. All value chain partners, from farm to plate, will be encouraged to support and invest in the continuous improvement of cattle’s health and wellbeing.

Ruaraidh Petre, Executive Director of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, said: “The world relies on beef and the industry relies on a healthy world to produce it. That’s why there is growing momentum in the industry to protect and nurture the earth’s natural resources.

“The conversation around beef sustainability is more important now than ever, and we recognise the need for beef to be more environmentally sound, more socially responsible, and more economically viable.

“The goals which we have launched today are a commitment from the global beef industry, articulating the role and responsibility that we are taking together towards achieving a more sustainable ecosystem.

“Our goals are ambitious, and we may not yet have all the solutions to achieve them. By focusing our efforts, we aim to inspire research and investment in science and innovation that will unlock their potential impact.”

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