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`UN report that linked meat-eating with climate change flawed`

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - 20:46

London: The UN has admitted that a 2006
report concluding that livestock farming is responsible for 18
per cent of greenhouse gas emissions was "flawed" and
exaggerated the impact of eating meat on climate change.

The report `Livestock`s Long Shadow` were heralded by
campaigners urging consumers to eat less meat to save the

Leading figures in the climate change establishment, such
as Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) chairman
Rajendra Pachauri and Lord (Nicholas) Stern, have also quoted
the 18 per cent figure as a reason why people should consider
eating less meat.

But a new analysis, presented at a US science meeting,
said linking of livestock production to 18 per cent of carbon
emission, more than transport, was "flawed", the BBC reported.

Frank Mitloehner from the University of California at
Davis (UCD) said curbing meat production and consumption would
infact be less beneficial for the climate than has been

"Smarter animal farming, not less farming, will equal
less heat," he told delegates at the American Chemical Society
(ACS) meeting in San Francisco.

"Producing less meat and milk will only mean more hunger
in poor countries."

He pointed out that the report, published by the UN Food
and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), reached the 18 per cent
figure by totting up all greenhouse-gas emissions associated
with meat production from farm to table, including fertiliser
production, land clearance, methane emissions from the
animals` digestion, and vehicle use on farms.

But the authors had not calculated transport emissions in
the same way, instead just using the IPCC`s figure, which only
included fossil fuel burning, Mitloehner said.

"This lopsided `analysis` is a classical apples-and-oranges
analogy that truly confused the issue," he said.

Meanwhile, one of the authors of Livestock`s Long Shadow,
FAO livestock policy officer Pierre Gerber, told BBC News that
he accepted Mitloehner`s criticism.

"I must say honestly that he has a point - we factored in
everything for meat emissions, and we didn`t do the same thing
with transport," he said.

"But on the rest of the report, I don`t think it was
really challenged."

FAO is now working on a much more comprehensive analysis
of emissions from food production, he said, adding that it
would be completed by the end of the year.


First Published: Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - 20:46

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