Curbing animal ag's contribution to climate change: 'Science and technology needed for meaningful action'

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Mina De La O
© GettyImages/Mina De La O

Related tags methane emissions FEFAC Afia

US and EU feed trade groups have jointly backed the US-EU Union Global Methane Pledge, which calls for the use of scientific innovation to cut methane emissions by 30% below 2020 levels by 2030.

US president, Joe Biden, made the announcement on September 17 during the US-led Major Economic Forum, a virtual meeting attended by global leaders including EU Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and South Korean president, Moon Jae-in.

The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) and the European Compound Feed Manufacturers’ Federation (FEFAC) said the pledge is a move in the right direction.

The commitment will enable regulators, on both sides of the Atlantic, to revamp existing regulatory requirements to support the use of innovative feed ingredients and proven strategies to significantly minimize methane emissions from enteric fermentation, according to the joint statement from AFIA CEO, Constance Cullman, and FEFAC president, Asbjørn Børsting.

“This, together with other mitigation strategies, such as improved farming and grazing techniques, animal genetics and animal husbandry practices, hold the key to further reduce the impact of dairy and beef production globally and thereby contribute to the success of the US-EU pledge.”

Curbing animal ag's contribution to climate change

Continuing, they outlined how curbing animal agriculture’s contribution to climate change is a key priority for the US and EU feed industries, with trade group members having been working collaboratively for decades to collect data that allow the animal feed industry to benchmark its carbon footprint and research solutions to reduce it.

“There are feed ingredients in use around the world that are helping the beef and dairy sectors optimize the nutrient uptake of their livestock, while reducing their enteric emissions, but the use of these technologies is limited due to inconsistent regulatory regimes.

“We know that achieving meaningful change in reducing global methane emissions will only be realized through the use of science and technology – which is helping today’s farmers feed more people with less – not drastic and unrealistic calls to change dietary consumption patterns.

“We have a duty to evolve so that we can meet the dietary needs of a burgeoning population, while using fewer natural resources.”

Support for collective goal

Delivering on the Global Methane Pledge would reduce warming by at least 0.2 degrees Celsius by 2050, reads the ​EU and US communication around the methane reduction commitment.

“Countries have widely varying methane emissions profiles and reduction potential, but all can contribute to achieving the collective global goal through additional domestic methane reduction and international cooperative actions. Major sources of methane emissions include oil and gas, coal, agriculture, and landfills. These sectors have different starting points and varying potential for short-term methane abatement with the greatest potential for targeted mitigation by 2030 in the energy sector.”

Eight countries have already indicated their support for the pledge. The US and the EU and those other early supporters said they will continue to enlist additional countries to join the initiative, pending its formal launch at COP 26 in November in Glasgow.

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