Livestock causes 80% of agriculture emissions

Livestock production is the dominant cause of EU agriculture’s impact on climate change, air pollution and biodiversity loss, EU-funded research has found. Its contribution is 78 per cent for terrestrial biodiversity loss, 80 per cent for soil acidification and air pollution (ammonia and nitrogen oxides emissions which contribute to the formation of particulate matter and tropospheric ozone with a detrimental impact on air quality), 81 per cent for global warming, and 73 per cent for water pollution (both nitrogen and phosphorus). The agriculture sector itself is one of the major contributors to these environmental impacts, ranging between 12 per cent for global warming and 59 per cent for nitrogen water quality impact.

The figure includes emissions caused by agriculture in other sectors or occurring outside of the EU territory, such as feed imports and transport, and emissions from land-use change. To address these environmental impacts, a combination of technical measures reducing emissions and land-use intensity, and demand-side measures to reduce food waste and change dietary habits is needed, according to the authors.


Source: ENDS Europe Daily, 17 November 2015. The article: “Impacts of European livestock production: nitrogen, sulphur, phosphorus and greenhouse gas emissions, land-use, water eutrophication and biodiversity.” By Adrian Leip et al. Environmental Research Letters 10 (2015) 115004.

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