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The farm animals in Europe produce more carbon emissions than cars

According to Greenpeace, when the environmental impact of the farm

animals’ food is taken into account, farm animals are responsible for more

greenhouse gases than all the continent’s cars and vans put together.

More meat and dairy products have been produced in Europe in the past

decade than ever before. Because of this, farming has caused a rise in carbon

emissions. Although governments have been able to recognise that climate

change is a serious issue, they have chosen to address it by making policies

that tackle renewable energy, instead of looking to reduce the impact of

farming on the climate, which would bring about a huge change.

In 2018, farm animals were directly responsible for 502m tonnes of carbon

dioxide a year, mostly through the methane cows produce when they pass

gas. In the same year, cars and vans were responsible for 656m tonnes of

carbon dioxide.

But when the indirect emissions were calculated, which took into account

the deforestation associated with growing food for the animals we eat, the

total annual emissions were 704m tonnes of carbon dioxide.

This report, which was titled ‘Farming for Failure’, was published by

Greenpeace on Tuesday the 22nd of September.

The production of meat and dairy products went up by 9.5% between 2017

and 2018. If production continues to rise, the EU will not be able to meet its

promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Agreement.

A spokesperson for the UK’s National Farmers’ Union said farmers were

taking action, with a target of being carbon neutral by 2040. Farming in the

UK is directly responsible for 10% of UK greenhouse gas emissions,

according to the NFU, without taking into account indirect emissions

related to feed.

“If we are to achieve [the carbon neutrality goal], we must reduce all our

greenhouse gas emissions,” said the spokesperson. “A focus on improving

productivity is key here, alongside maintaining and improving our storage

of carbon in grassland and producing more renewable energy.”

Greenpeace is calling for an end to public subsidies for industrial-scale

animal farming under the EU’s common agricultural policy, as part of the

bloc’s plans for a green deal. Such a policy is unlikely to win much favour

from the powerful farming lobbies in most large European countries, but

policymakers will be under pressure to show how they can meet the EU’s

climate targets without large-scale reforms to farming.

Key terms:

1. Carbon emissions

2. Greenhouse gases

3. Climate change

4. Carbon dioxide

5. Methane

6. Dairy

Key Questions:

1. Why do you think governments are not putting restrictions on the

farming industry?

2. Do you think the amount of meat and cheese we consume should be


3. What do you think should be done to reduce greenhouse gas


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