Livestock are not the global warming enemy
Updated: Aug 14
The focus on ruminant methane in causing global warming is ill-informed and in fact the restoration of grass-based systems could result in net zero emissions from UK agriculture by 2030.
In 2019 I wrote an article for the Vet Record, which explained new science by a team of Oxford scientists that accurately assessing the global warming impact of ruminant methane. Part of this article appears below.
Farmers own and manage more than 70 per cent of land in the UK. Unfortunately, many of them feel marginalised and threatened by the current focus on ruminant methane in causing global warming. However, this focus is ill-informed and runs the risk of alienating precisely the constituency we must inspire in the race to mitigate and adapt to climate change, restore biodiversity, and increase our food security. It could also drive dangerously unsustainable land use and the further intensification of animal and arable agriculture.
New science, by a team of researchers for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), based at the University of Oxford, categorically shows that methane from the UK’s ruminants is not causing global warming – instead ruminants provide a viable pathway to net zero emissions from UK agriculture by 2030.
Although livestock produce methane almost constantly, the focus on their emissions is misleading – it’s the warming impact of those emissions that actually matters.
Grass-based cattle and sheep systems can be climate neutral by 2030, and help to restore biodiversity and soil health
Far from being unsustainable, as many people have argued, grass-based cattle and sheep systems can be climate neutral by 2030, and they can help to restore biodiversity and soil health...
NOW - as I don't want to upset the good people at the Vet Record - please visit their website to read the rest of the article. You can read a pdf version (as it first appeared in the magazine) here - or the web version here.