Carbon Trust forms partnership to reduce climate impact of livestock

The Carbon Trust has struck a deal with World Bank Group member International Finance Corporation (IFC) to enhance productivity and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the livestock supply chain.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed yesterday (6 March), to support a pilot scheme aimed at enhancing the resource efficiency of Brazil’s beef sector and its supply chain, which is responsible for an estimated 40% of the countries national GHG emissions.

The Carbon Trust hopes the five-year project will create almost $1bn in energy cost savings, reduce emissions by more than 16 million tonnes and recover 200,000 hectares of degraded pastureland. The two organisations will also assess the potential scope for future partnerships elsewhere in Latin America and in other regions.

Carbon Trust chief executive Tom Delay highlighted the importance of international collaboration in delivering climate action. “The private sector has the opportunity to take a leading role in turning global ambitions on climate change action into a reality,” Delay said. “We are really pleased to be working with the IFC to explore opportunities to make a significant impact on the Brazilian beef sector.

“We plan to see how we can leverage the IFC’s Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) Green Building tool and certification system for the food retail and food processing sectors to help achieve our goals and to reduce waste and environmental impact in the cold storage chain.”

Shared aspirations

The agreement also includes the possibility for the Carbon Trust to work with the IFC to help develop simple and reliable approaches for measuring the climate-related impact in IFC’s projects in the meat and dairy industries.

The deal follows on from the IFC approval of a new definition for climate-smart agriculture in September 2016. The IFC also placed a strategic focus on reducing the climate impact of animal protein in emerging countries.

IFC global manufacturing, agribusiness & services co-director Alzbeta Klein said: “IFC and Carbon Trust share aspirations for supporting low-carbon growth and mitigating climate change, and this MoU will help us leverage our respective expertise and networks. Rising population growth and per capita income are fuelling demand for protein, with growth in production and consumption shifting to emerging markets.

“Higher productivity and efficiency are critical to reducing the footprint of different sectors including beef and dairy. We look forward to benefitting from Carbon Trust’s track record in measuring and certifying the environmental footprint of companies’ operations, supply chains, and products.”

Beefed-up progress

The need to tackle the climate impact associated with the human consumption of meat and dairy is significant, with GHG emissions from the livestock sector estimated to account for 14.5% of the global total.

Recent studies show that reducing demand for animal products will help to keep global temperature rises below 2C. Climate taxes on meat and milk would lead to huge and vital cuts in carbon emissions as well as saving half a million lives a year via healthier diets, according to the first global analysis of the issue led by an Oxford University team.

Germany’s federal environment agency wants to raise taxes on animal products such as liver sausages, eggs and cheese to 19% from 7% to offset the impact of the agricultural industry on climate change 

US-based firm Impossible Foods has introduced its own novel solution to the issue. The company has introduced a non-meat burger, which cost $80m to produce, that uses 95% less land and around 75% less water than traditional burgers. The lab-engineered burger is made from water and plant-based sources such as textured wheat protein, coconut oil and potato protein. As well as producing 87% less emissions, it is also designed to “bleed” like normal red meats.

Meanwhile, a recent edie podcast with sustainability leadership expert Alexandra Stubbings outlined that veganism is a viable, yet overlooked, way to reduce an individual’s own carbon impact. 

George Ogleby

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