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‘Emissions Impossible’: How emissions from big meat and dairy are heating up the planet

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Methane emissions of 5 of the largest meat corporations and 10 of the largest dairy corporations are roughly 12.8 million tonnes, which equates to over 80% of the European Union’s entire methane footprint.

IATP: This report for the first time estimates the methane emissions of five of the largest meat corporations and ten of the largest dairy corporations. Their combined methane emissions are roughly 12.8 million tonnes, which equates to over 80% of the European Union’s entire methane footprint. These companies’ emissions represent around 3.4% of all global anthropogenic methane emissions and 11.1% of the world’s livestock-related methane.

The report also provides the latest estimates for the overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the same companies, which amount to around 734 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent – higher than the emissions of Germany. The report calls for urgent and ambitious legislation to address the significant climate impacts of global meat and dairy corporations and for governments to support a just transition for the transformation of industrial animal agriculture towards agroecology.

Climate change is wreaking havoc globally through more frequent and extreme weather events (floods, wildfires) and the slow-onset climate processes, such as droughts, desertification and sea level rise. Climate disruption is already affecting farmers everywhere, as our agricultural systems are uniquely dependent on stable climatic conditions. The higher global temperatures rise, the more alarming the disruptions to food production will become.

Rapid emissions cuts this decade are critical in preventing catastrophic climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).1 Methane emissions cuts have been identified in particular as key levers to avert both temperature overshoot and dangerous tipping points. Methane is a short-lived but extremely potent gas: it has around 80 times more warming potential than CO2 over a 20-year timespan, but only lives in the atmosphere for around a decade.2

According to the United Nations Environment Programme’s Global Methane Assessment, methane emissions should be reduced by at least 40-45% in this critical decade of climate action.3 Livestock agriculture is the single largest source of methane, responsible for around 32% of anthropogenic methane emissions.4 In this report we investigate the emissions of some of the biggest meat and dairy companies. SOURCE…

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