James Dyer | Raymond Desjardins – Using Protein as a Unifying Measurement of Livestock Carbon Footprints
About this episode
Livestock production has a significant impact on the environment, through land use and greenhouse gas emissions. As such, minimising environmental impacts while also fulfilling the dietary needs of a growing global population must be a priority for agriculture. However, directly comparing the carbon footprints of different livestock is challenging, mainly due to differences in their products. James Dyer and Raymond Desjardins from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada set out to explore ways to compare the carbon footprints of animal products. Read More
They demonstrated how changes in our diets would change land use and impact the carbon footprint of agriculture. They also identified complete protein as an essential measurement for comparing livestock products. Using greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of animal-quality protein produced, they showed that pork had a far lower carbon footprint than beef.
Dyer and Desjardins also used their protein metric to compare several scenarios incorporating livestock type, production method, land use, and greenhouse gas emissions. They presented several consumer options for reducing the livestock carbon footprint.
They showed that beef and pork have similar feed grain requirements, but beef requires additional land for hay and pasture. Soil carbon stored in this land is considered to offset greenhouse gas emissions from beef. However, by switching to pork production, this extra land would be free to grow other food crops or could be rewilded.
By rewilding, an equal amount of soil carbon could be stored, and biodiversity would benefit. Their scenario assessment indicated that an overall move from beef and lamb to pork and poultry – with the occasional consumption of grass-fed beef – provides the lowest livestock carbon footprint while still producing the necessary dietary protein.
Original Article Reference
Summary of the paper ‘Reconciling Reduced Red Meat Consumption in Canada with Regenerative Grazing: Implications for GHG Emissions, Protein Supply and Land Use’ in Atmosphere, doi.org/10.3390/atmos12080945
This research was funded by the Sustainability Metrics Project (Contract No. 01E86 2018–2019), Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, Government of Canada
For further information, you can connect with James Dyer at email@example.com
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