Livestock emissions were all over the menu at the Paris Climate Conference—in the form of butter, cheese and meat—but they were nowhere to be found on the agenda. Nonetheless, 196 countries committed to a global emissions target that will make it difficult for the animal-agriculture sector to operate as it has been.
“The Paris agreement offers new challenges for the livestock sector, in that it introduces more ambitious longer term emissions-reduction targets,” said Antony Froggatt, a senior research fellow with Chatham House, a London think tank.
“Given the importance of livestock to global emissions, this increases the imperative for reductions from the sector.”
Countries agreed “to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century.” That scope reaches beyond the three sectors climate advocates have focused on so far—energy, industry, and transportation.
Countries will have difficulty achieving net-zero emissions unless they address emissions from livestock, variously estimated at 14.5 percent, 18 percent, or even as high as 51 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.