Livestock and climate change, challenges and options.
Henderson, B., Gerber, P., Opio, C.
[History] Received: 6 December 2010; Accepted: 18 April 2011
CAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources, 2011, 6, 016, 1-11
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This review outlines livestock's major emission pathways and production trends, and explores the challenges and options for livestock in addressing and coping with climate change. Ruminant production is, and will continue to be, the chief source of the livestock sector's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, mainly as a result of deforestation, land degradation and enteric fermentation. Livestock productivity improvement is fundamental to mitigation and where it is achieved through the transfer of improved production practices and technologies, it can also deliver important rural livelihood and food security co-benefits in developing countries. Mitigation is also possible by shifting production resources, particularly concentrate feeds, from ruminant to monogastric enterprises, given their higher feed conversion efficiencies and lower emission intensities. However, standard prescriptions for productivity improvements, which are often accompanied by higher concentrations of animals on land, need safeguards to ensure that they do not lead to localized pollution problems and increase disease risks. Further, measures that simultaneously improve productivity and capacity for adaptation to climate change, such as more efficient crop-livestock integration and water management, should be exploited wherever possible. Policy options for unlocking livestock's large mitigation potential are widely known, but their implementation is currently hampered by technical and institutional capacity constraints, and by a lack of political support and global agreement on mitigation. There is a particular need for practicable methods for measurement, reporting and verification of emissions, to improve access to carbon markets, and to facilitate the sector's transition to a low-emission future.