Greenhouse gas methane emissions from cattle are larger than previously estimated, according to new data.
Revised calculations from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) – which urges leaders to take action on climate change – show that global livestock emissions in 2011 were 11 percent higher than predicted.
IPCC scientists believe this newfound evidence poses additional threats in the fight to curb global warming.
US Deparment of Agriculture researcher Julie Wolf said in a statement: “In many regions, livestock numbers are changing, and breeding has resulted in larger animals with higher intakes of food.
“This, along with changes in livestock management, can lead to higher methane emissions.”
Wolf also highlighted that earlier estimates were based on ‘out-of-date data’.
Earlier research also shows that the concentration of methane in the air has climbed 10 times more quickly in the last decade, compared to years 2000 to 2006.
“As our diets become more meat – and dairy-rich, so the hidden climate cost of our food tends to mount up,” said professor Dave Reay from the University of Edinburgh.
He told The Guardian: “Cows belching less methane may not be as eye-catching as wind turbines and solar panels, but they are just as vital for addressing climate change.”
The study also noted that methane emissions from livestock have risen most sharply in regions of Asia, Latin America, and Africa; however, emissions in US, Canada, and Europe have declined.