Five meat companies and ten dairy companies emit more methane than countries like Russia

11/15/2022 at 01:27


Analysis Reveals Breakdown of Livestock Industry’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions for the First Time | Experts denounce that, despite the enormous impact of the sector, multinationals remain on the sidelines of climate commitments

On the eve of one of the largest diplomatic meetings to date to discuss how to reduce methane emissions (one of the greenhouse gases that is driving global warming and accelerating the climate crisis), the release of a new report is muddying the waters. The 15 largest meat and dairy companies in the world emit so much methane that countries like Russia, Australia or Germany. Emissions from a single Brazilian company together add up to more methane than the entire livestock industry in France, Germany, Canada and New Zealand combined. And yet, as agreed to date, multinationals are exempt from climate commitments.

These are some of the data that emerge from the analysis published this Tuesday by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and the Changing Markets Foundation. The information comes to light just a few days before the first ministerial meeting about methane reduction plans. Last year, during the Glasgow climate summit, the first global commitment to cut emissions of this gas by at least 30% by 2030 was presented. This year, forty countries, including Spain, have signed met in Sharm el-Sheikh to present their road map to achieve it. The plans on the table, however, do not contemplate regulating the activity of companies that, as this study highlights, have become the largest sources of methane emissions on the planet.

“Methane emissions from big meat and dairy companies rival those of states, but hide their colossal ecological footprint behind a façade of ‘greenwashing’ and false zero emission targets”, highlights shefali sharma, director of the European delegation of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. “These companies will not change their production model voluntarily: governments must establish rules to regulate their emissions and help farmers move away from factory farming“adds the expert after the publication of this latest report.

“Methane emissions from big meat and dairy companies rival those of states”

methane footprint

The analysis presented this Tuesday, at the start of the second and final week of the climate summit in Egypt, is the first carried out to date for determine the methane footprint from multinationals such as Nestlé, Danone, Danish Crown or Saputo. Until now, the private sector’s methane footprint was a big unknown. Above all because, from the companies themselves, discordant estimates had been provided. The data provided by this new study represent the first global estimate of the emissions of the big players in the meat and dairy sector. That is to say, of the great industrial exploitations.

The data revealed by this report are, to say the least, shocking. Just fifteen companies in the meat and dairy industry They are responsible for the emission of some 12.8 million tons of methane per year. This would be equivalent to more than 80% of the annual methane footprint of the entire European Union. In total, these fifteen companies also account for 11% of all the methane produced by the global livestock industry. If we add the footprint of the other major greenhouse gas, the global calculation suggests that these multinationals emit more carbon dioxide than countries like Germany. “If these 15 companies were treated as one country, they would be the tenth jurisdiction with the highest emissions of the world”, concludes the analysis.

“A handful of meat and dairy corporations are responsible for 1 in 10 tons of methane produced by cattle, and yet they have been given a free pass to pollute,” said Nusa Ubanic, campaign manager for the Changing Markets platform.

“A handful of meat and dairy corporations are responsible for 1 in 10 tons of methane produced by livestock”

urgent legislation

The panel of experts that has led this report calls for a “urgent and ambitious legislation” to address industry emissions. On the one hand, they ask that government agencies take action on the matter and set emissions reduction targets for the livestock sector. That would include, for example, forcing companies to report their emissions and, in turn, establish a independent verification mechanism to monitor the accuracy of the data. On the other hand, companies in the sector are called upon to speed up their transition towards a “healthier model” where, for example, animal macrofarms are left behind and bet on smaller and more sustainable farms.

“Legislation should help farmers and ranchers produce less and better meat and dairy products”

“Our best hope of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees is through rapid cuts in methane emissions. And this will only be possible with more ambitious actions targeting emissions from the livestock industry,” he said. Richard Salvador, from the Union of Concerned Scientists platform. “Legislation should help farmers and ranchers to produce less and better meat and dairy products for the good of people and the planet”, settles the scientist.