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Meat and climate change – meat production contributes to climate change in various ways. The sector emits enormous amounts of greenhouse gases, like CO2 and methane. FAO states that meat- and dairy are responsible for about 14.5 % of global emissions. Mainly beef is a significant contributor.

Raising animals for meat requires many resources, which puts pressure on land, water and feed production. Altogether, the sector contributes to global warming.

Meat and climate change

The large-scale meat production of red meat, like pork and beef, is responsible for high emissions. Therefore, there is a connection between meat and climate change. The emissions come from all the processes included in agricultural production. For example, producing large amounts of beef require vast amounts of land. Today, crop production for animal feed gets produced on gigantic fields. There is also a need for pastureland.

The above connects to deforestation and pollution, two sectors that further emit greenhouse gases. Many of the existing crop fields also get sprayed with chemical fertilizers. These are very bad for the environment. For example, fertilizers emit the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. Hence, animal feed is a massive contributor to climate change.

Furthermore, all animals emit the greenhouse gas methane when they digest grasses and plants. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Finally, the meat gets transported worldwide, leading to significant emissions from the transport sector. For example, beef gets transported from the US to China.

Meat and emissions

Reducing the climate impact of meat

There are several ways to create a more sustainable production to reduce the impact of meat and climate change, particularly by improving land use and animal treatment. Treating meat like a local product is best, avoiding worldwide transport. Yet, to reduce the climate impact, it is better to eat much less of it. Historically, this has always been the case. Various scientific findings suggest that human bodies are better adapted to a low intake.

Furthermore, the World Resource Institute advises people to eat less meat. It is better for both health and the environment. Findings show that a high meat intake has different health risks, such as heart disease. Therefore, reducing meat consumption can help combat climate change while staying healthy.


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