Greenhouse gas emissions would go up if every farm in England and Wales went organic, finds study. The increase in the need for imported food caused by a national switch to organic farming would mean higher levels of polluting gases. Suppliers would have to turn to overseas producers to source food as the amount grown in the UK would plummet. And because crop yields would be almost halved in size if farms went all-natural, more land would need to be used and emissions would increase from tending to that, too. More farmland in other countries would need to be made available, where food would be grown and then imported – meaning almost double the emissions would be released.
Agriculture and farming produce huge quantities of greenhouse gases but eradicating dairy and meat is not enough to reach climate change targets. These targets state that global temperatures should be limited to a 1.5 C (2.7 F) increase by 2030. Methane and nitrous oxide are produced in huge quantities by livestock and are significant contributors to global warming. Animal rights activists, scientists and conservationists have long petitioned for a reduction in the worldwide consumption of meat and dairy products to reduce the impact on the environment. Although it is not enough to reach climate change targets on its own, the livestock sector still has a key role to play in helping to reach the ambitious targets, scientists have urged.
Giving you your daily bread is costly for the climate. The equivalent of half a kilogram of carbon dioxide goes into the atmosphere for every loaf of bread produced in the UK, according to the best study on the subject yet. That suggests making the bread eaten in the UK results in massive greenhouse emissions: equal to an astonishing half a per cent of all the UK's greenhouse emissions. The finding highlights the urgent need to tackle global emissions from farming, which produces a third of all greenhouse gases. In the case of a loaf of bread, the main source of these emissions is the nitrogen fertiliser used to grow the wheat.
A new report says that global agricultural emissions must be slashed to prevent the planet warming by more than 2C over the next century. The current focus is on reducing emissions from transport and energy. But an international team of scientists argues that if farm-related emissions aren't tackled then the Paris climate targets will be breached. An estimated one-third of our greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture. The report by researchers from the universities of Vermont and Sheffield and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change examines non-CO2 emissions, such as methane and nitrous oxide.
Eating meat, eggs and dairy products hurts the environment in a number of different ways. Cows, pigs and other farm animals release huge amounts of methane into the atmosphere. While there is less methane in the atmosphere than other greenhouse gases, it is around 25 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat. Raising livestock also means converting forests into agricultural land, meaning CO2-absorbing trees are being cut down, further adding to climate change. More trees are cut down to convert land for crop growing, as around a third of all grain produced in the world is used to feed animals raised for human consumption.