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Natural Awakenings

UN Methane Report Faults Big Meat and Big Dairy

Pair of cows tagged for meat

rokfeler/AdobeStock.com

The United Nations Environment Programme and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition have released a Global Methane Assessment of emissions from fossil fuels, agriculture and waste management. With livestock contributing 32 percent of the methane footprint, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) stresses the need to regulate and mitigate methane emissions from global meat and dairy companies. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also identified the factory farm system of hog and dairy operations with liquified manure lagoon systems as responsible for rising methane emissions related to agriculture.

IATP European Director Shefali Sharma says, “Disappointingly, the assessment calls for more technological fixes such as feed additives and biodigesters to reduce agriculture’s methane footprint, rather than addressing the core of the problem. Untenable growth of animals in the food chain is spurred on by a powerful meat and dairy industry that bears no costs for this environmental debacle, but passes it on to farmers and consumers.” The report provides evidence that a new policy framework accounting for the factory farm system’s emissions and aiding a transition to more scale-appropriate agroecological systems of animal production that will be less harmful to people and the climate is needed, according to Ben Lilliston, IATP director of climate strategies. 

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