Caldeira Lab

Global and regional trends in greenhouse gas emissions from livestock

Dario Caro, Steven Davis, Simone Bastianoni & Ken Caldeira

Caro, D., S. Davis, S. Bastianoni and K Caldeira, Global and Regional Trends In Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Livestock, 2014: Clim. Chang., doi 10.1007/s10584-014-1197-x.



Following IPCC guidelines (IPCC 2006), we estimate greenhouse gas emissions
related to livestock in 237 countries and 11 livestock categories during the period 1961–2010.
We find that in 2010 emissions of methane and nitrous oxide related to livestock worldwide
represented approximately 9 % of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Global GHG
emissions from livestock increased by 51 % during the analyzed period, mostly due to strong
growth of emissions in developing (Non-Annex I) countries (+117 %). In contrast, developed
country (Annex I) emissions decreased (−23 %). Beef and dairy cattle are the largest source of
livestock emissions (74 % of global livestock emissions). Since developed countries tend to
have lower CO2-equivalent GHG emissions per unit GDP and per quantity of product
generated in the livestock sector, the amount of wealth generated per unit GHG emitted from
the livestock sector can be increased by improving both livestock farming practices in
developing countries and the overall state of economic development. Our results reveal
important details of how livestock production and associated GHG emissions have occurred
in time and space. Discrepancies with higher tiers, demonstrate the value of more detailed
analyses, and discourage over interpretation of smaller-scale trends in the Tier 1 results, but do
not undermine the value of global Tier 1 analysis.


Figure 1. Trend of global livestock greenhouse gas (expressed as equivalent CO2) emissions during the period 1961–2010 from Developed and Developing countries. a. Emissions are subdivided into methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) and expressed in terms of CO2 equivalents using 100-year GWP measures. b. CO2 equivalent emissions are subdivided into enteric fermentation, manure management, and manure left on pasture. Global greenhouse gas emissions from livestock have been growing over time, primarily due to increased methane emissions from Developing countries.
Figure 3. Trend in global beef cattle, dairy cattle, pigs and sheep greenhouse gas emissions for Developed and Developing countries the period 1961–2010 in units of megatons of CO2 equivalent.
Figure 5. Map showing livestock emissions per ton of beef meat, dairy milk, pig and chicken meat produced during the period 1961–2010. Emission intensity in developing countries is higher than developed countries (except for pig meat in the last two decades). Global emission intensity decreases over the time. Beef meat is the product associated to highest intensity. Data on production of livestock products is from the United Nations Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO 2014).