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These 15 Meat and Dairy Companies Emit As Much Methane As The EU | Livestock Methane Emissions

by | Dec 15, 2022 | Carbon Footprint & Carbon Accounting

Have you ever wondered how much livestock methane emissions account for? According to recent research, the total methane emissions of 15 of the biggest meat and dairy producers in the world are more than those of several of the biggest nations, including Russia, Canada, and Australia.

The analysis done by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and Changing Markets Foundation found that emissions by the five meat companies and 10 dairy corporations equal to more than 80% of the European Union’s overall methane footprint and which also accounts for 11.1% of the world’s livestock methane emissions.

The report also includes the most recent statistics for the total GHG emissions of the same companies, which amount to about 734 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, which is higher than Germany’s emissions. These companies are responsible for approximately 3.4 % of all global anthropogenic methane emissions and 11.1% of the world’s livestock-related methane, according to the report.

According to the United Nations, methane emissions are rising quickly and are far more powerful than carbon dioxide, trapping heat 80 times more efficiently. Methane is released by cows and their excrement.

Researchers acknowledge in the research that it is challenging to precisely calculate greenhouse gas emissions due to the firms’ lack of openness. Based on regional livestock practices and publicly accessible data on meat and milk output, results were estimated.

The research is released while the Cop27 climate summit is taking place in Egypt, where politicians and business executives are debating the importance of agriculture and are being accused of failing to explore viable alternatives.

According to the analysis, the 15 corporations would be the world’s 10th highest emitter of greenhouse gases if they were considered a nation. Researchers discovered that their total emissions exceed those of oil firms like ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell.

Individual animal businesses were singled out by researchers, including Danone, a major French dairy corporation, and JBS, the largest meat producer in the world.

Livestock Methane Emissions: These 15 Meat and Dairy Companies Emit As Much Methane As The EU

Source: Global share of livestock emissions

Livestock Methane Emissions Insights

  • JBS’s methane emissions are more than the sum of livestock methane emissions from France, Germany, Canada, and New Zealand, or compared to 55% of animal methane in the US.
  • Tyson Foods, a US multinational, has a methane footprint equivalent to that of Russian cattle, and Fonterra, a New Zealand dairy behemoth, has a methane footprint comparable to that of Irish livestock.
  • The firms collectively emit more greenhouse gases than Germany, the fourth-largest economy in the world, and more than ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell combined.
  • Additionally, they produce more pollution collectively than major oil firms like ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell.
  • 9 out of 15 businesses (60%) either fail to register their emission or fail to report the emissions over the whole supply chain (scope 3). None of the businesses disclosed their methane emissions in the supply chain.
  • There are just six firms that completely disclose all of their emissions, including those from animals in their supply chains, which account for 90% of the sector’s carbon impact.
  • None of the signatories, including nine out of the ten nations where the headquarters of the 15 largest meat and dairy firms are located, have adequate policies to address livestock methane. Livestock farming continues to increase and is to blame for 32% of the world’s emissions.

130 nations have signed on to the Pledge, which was announced at the Glasgow Climate Summit last year, to reduce global methane emissions by 30% by the year 2030. Even the EU and US, according to the experts, are not on pace to accomplish this goal because of the emphasis on technological fixes like animal feed additives rather than an actual effort to reduce the number of cattle.

The study proposed changes to facilitate a “just transition” away from factory farming by lowering the number of animals per farm and mandating businesses to disclose greenhouse gas emissions. The research found that businesses should also set objectives to lower emissions and be more forthcoming about methane production.

The US has avoided regulating agricultural methane emissions, instead opting to provide corporations and farmers with incentives for voluntary greenhouse gas reductions. However, until the Environmental Protection Agency is permitted to control those emissions, change is unlikely, according to Cathy Day, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s coordinator for climate policy.

The 15 firms under investigation are headquartered in ten nations, five of which, according to the study, have seen a rise in livestock methane emissions over the previous ten years. Compared to other nations, China’s emissions have climbed by a whopping 17 percent.

The report also states that “systemic transformation,” which in turn calls for “a holistic understanding of the drivers of mass industrial animal production and multiple policy interventions to reduce the number of animals used for meat and dairy production,” is necessary in order to reduce livestock methane emissions seriously.

 

Author

  • Sigma Earth

    The author has done a master's in Environmental science and is currently working as chief Environmental Advisor with New Delhi State Government.

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