Getting the numbers right on climate change and agriculture

Latest blog, expanded directory listings and more news from A Greener World
September 2018
Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Can we trust the numbers?
When comparing greenhouse gas emissions, it’s not as simple as it may seem.

There is a lot of talk about the environmental impact of animal agriculture, particularly about the estimated amount of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from livestock production. In efforts to point a finger of blame at the worst climate change offender, there have been reports that emissions from the livestock sector are greater than the emissions from the transport sector. So now we should all stop eating burgers, right?

Not so fast – it’s not that simple. The problem is that these comparisons are made in a flawed way. Comparing the direct emissions from transport against both direct and indirect emissions from livestock production is not a fair or correct comparison.

To get the numbers straight, we recommend looking to theIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which identifies and monitors human activities responsible for climate change and reports direct emissions by sectors. The IPCC estimates that direct emissions from transport (road, air, rail and maritime) account for 6.9 gigatons per year, about 14% of all emissions from human activities. By comparison, direct emissions from livestock account for 2.3 gigatons of CO2 equivalent, or 5% of the total.

While we certainly have our work cut out for us to mitigate the effects of climate change, it’s important to start doing the work with real facts in front of us – so we know where to put our focus.

It’s our hope that we can start moving together towards positive, fact-based and research-proven solutions. The “cows vs. cars” debate seems to continue on and on with new inflated numbers every week. Instead, we need to seek out the facts, so that we can move towards real—and urgent— solutions. To truly solve climate change problems, for the sake of the planet, and ourselves, we need to first get the numbers right.

Read the entire blog here and let us know what you think —

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