Spanish beef farming emits 66 percent less greenhouse gases


Spanish scientists publish the report "Evaluation of the environmental impact of beef production chains that integrate grazing and landless systems". This study, published in the journal Animal, sheds light on the environmental impact of beef cattle farming in Spain.

Posted on Feb 14 ,00:10

Spanish beef farming emits 66 percent less greenhouse gases

The research, led by scientists from the Polytechnic University of Valencia such as Fernando Estellés, highlights the need for its implementation, "since until now the true impact of beef cattle farming in our country was not known". According to Raisa Tinitana, another of the scientists in the study, she emphasizes that this study "will allow us to lay the foundations to evaluate whether livestock farmers in Spain are making progress towards the climate neutrality goal proposed by the European Commission for 2050". 

One of the most notable findings of the report reveals that the carbon footprint of beef cattle in Spain per kilo of meat produced is 66% lower than the global average, when contrasted with FAO data. Manuel Laínez, scientist of the study, emphasizes that this is due to the efficiency of the production system used in beef cattle farming in Spain.

In addition to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, scientists have confirmed other relevant points such as that the water footprint of beef cattle in Spain is one third when compared to the world average. Other aspects that stand out are:

Unaccounted for carbon capture: The methodology currently used to measure the carbon footprint does not consider the carbon capture carried out by the pastures where the cows are. Thus, it is estimated that carbon sequestration can offset 60% of emissions from grazing animals. Nor is another positive aspect contemplated, such as the promotion of the biodiversity of beef cattle farming in its environmental impact. Competition with human food: 92% of the food consumed by beef cattle in Spain does not compete with human food and the remaining 8%, mainly cereals such as barley or corn, does not put pressure on the increase in the price of the food.

Livestock efficiency: Beef production systems in Spain demonstrate high levels of efficiency in their production system, optimizing the use of available resources. Impact of eliminating cows on the planet: Eliminating cows could lead to other wild herbivores occupying their space, emitting greenhouse gases in a similar way to current ruminants, but without contributing to feeding the planet.

Climate commitment: The livestock sector in Spain is committed to reducing carbon emissions. Proof of this has been the launch of the "Carbon Neutral Beef Strategy 2050" and some guides of good environmental practices before the European Commission launched the "Green Deal" and "Farm to fork" strategy, with real measures to move forward in the search for climate neutrality in 2050 reflected in the codes of good environmental practices in livestock farming, industry and points of sale. Scientific-livestock collaboration: Collaboration between the scientific community and the livestock sector is an essential reality to achieve climate objectives.

The report prepared by Raisa Tinitana-Bayas, Neus Sanjuán, Elena Sanchís Jiménez, Manuel Laínez and Fernando Estellés marks a very important milestone in being able to know the true environmental impact of beef cattle farming in Spain, where efficiency and sustainability are identity stamps of beef cattle farming in Spain.

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