Largest farms produce an EU’s worth of methane

On November 22, revealed in a new report that the combined methane emissions from 15 of the world’s largest farms (meat and dairy companies) amount to 80% of those produced by the entire European Union.

Photo credit: Cottonbro Studio

Excerpts from the story: 

“The study, which comes from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and the Changing Markets Foundation, also reported that these companies produce more emissions than the countries of Russia, Canada, and Australia.

“If these 15 companies were a country, the report said, it would be the 10th largest greenhouse gas emitting country on earth. Together, they are said to produce more emissions than oil companies like BP and Shell. Shefali Sharma, director of the IATP’s European office, told the Guardian. ‘We can’t continue to have this handful of companies controlling this many animals.’

“Researchers said that a lack of transparency from these companies makes it difficult to measure emissions. Results are therefore an estimate based on available data on farming practices and milk production.

“A report published last year found that livestock—particularly cows—were responsible for around a third of human-caused methane emissions. Cows, and some other animals like goats and sheep, produce methane when they burp. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas; it’s 80 times more warming than CO2 in its first 20 years in the atmosphere. It also, however, has a much shorter half-life—meaning cutting it would slow warming more quickly, giving us more time to address carbon. According to the United Nations, cutting methane is the ‘strongest lever’ we have to slow global heating.” (Polly Foreman,

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