Cattle emission debate rages on

By Ashley Williams & Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

Cattle emission debate rages on
The debate over livestock production and its impact on the climate isn’t going away anytime soon and there’s no end of research on both sides of the argument.

Most recently, an analysis of 79 cities by the Green Alliance, Consumption emissions: the new frontier for climate action by cities, ​highlighted ways that carbon emissions could be reduced by collaboration. It suggested that co-operation between their research institutions and joint buying power could help to commercialise low carbon beef production, through measures such as selective breeding and novel feeds that lower the methane emissions from cattle by up to 80%.

It said: A single city could cut beef consumption through procurement and behaviour change. For example, the City of Paris has set ambitious objectives for its institutional catering services, including a 50 per cent reduction in meat in meals by 2030. But reducing beef consumption in a single city is unlikely to lead to emissions reductions beyond that city’s own consumption-based footprint.”

On a grander scale, it suggests “a group of European cities could use their purchasing power to jointly procure lower carbon plant-based meat products that resemble meat in texture and flavour. As these meat alternatives are only just starting to be commercialised, providing an early market could stimulate more production in Europe. Replacing half of the ground beef purchased with a plant-based meat substitute could cut emissions by a further 14 per cent”. ​All well and good but that’s only if there’s a demand for more plant-based produce.

It’s not all anti-meat production though. A scientist has conducted research revealing that there is no “scientific evidence” that suggests livestock contributes towards the earth’s declining climate.

Dr Albrecht Glatzle, who claims to have written over 100 scientific papers and two textbooks, highlighted in his report, Domestic Livestock and its Alleged Role in Climate Change,​ that greenhouse gas emissions omitted from cattle have been “exaggerated​”.

The report stated that the beneficial impacts of carbon dioxide emissions for agriculture have been “systematically​” suppressed, ignored or downplayed by the media and politics, as well as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate and United Nations agencies.

It adds that between 1990 and 2005, the world cattle population rose by more than 100 million head, according to the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO), with atmospheric methane concentrations stabilising.

Glatzle said these observations showed that livestock was not a “significant player​” in global methane.

We expose important methodological deficiencies in IPCC and FAO instructions and applications for the quantification of the man-made part of non-CO2​-GHG emissions from agro-ecosystems​,” the report stated.

However, so far, these fatal errors inexorably propagated through the scientific literature. Finally, we could not find a clear domestic livestock fingerprint, neither in the geographical methane distribution nor in the historical evolution of mean atmospheric methane concentration​.”

In the UK, Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales chairman Kevin Roberts spoke out against the ‘fake news’ regarding meat and the environment. “We live in an era of food fake news: of social media sophistry,”​ he said. “We’re fully aware that, aided by social media in particular, that the pressure has been stepped up by red meat’s opponents in recent months.”

“I’m sure you’ve heard and read it all: for instance, eating less red meat will somehow save the planet.

“Well, here are the real facts. Wales has 1.8 million hectares of agricultural land. 89% of that is permanent pasture and much of this land is unsuitable for other food production. Producing quality meat the ‘Welsh Way’ – by non-intensive, mixed grazing – enables a vibrant, bio-diverse and beautiful landscape.”

Related topics: Environment, Beef

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1 comment

Paris is Burning

Posted by Justin,

Climate change policies have caused the citizens of Paris to riot due to increased fuel prices. I am wondering who and when they will riot for taking their meat consumption rights away?

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