Decarbonising meat: Exploring greenhouse gas emissions in the meat sector

S. I. Aan Den Toorn, M. A. Van Den Broek, E. Worrell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Consumption of meat is an important source of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emission and deep decarbonisation of the whole meat production chain is required to be able to meet global climate change (CC) mitigation goals. Emissions happen in different stages of meat production ranging from agricultural input production, feed production, livestock production to slaughtering, meat processing, and retail. An overview of direct emissions from processes in the meat sector themselves and indirect emissions from energy consumptions would provide a clearer picture for potential CC impact reduction. This paper explores the total GHG emissions and data availability within the meat sector of the pig, chicken, and cattle meat product system. Through statistical data provided by FAOSTAT and supplementary data from literature, the CC impacts of energy use and process GHG emissions in the pig, chicken and cattle meat life cycle are estimated. Cattle dominates, but pig and chicken meat have a sizable amount of GHG emissions with a relatively high contribution from agricultural inputs and post-farm processes. However, uncertainty and unavailability of data are large for the energy consumption, direct GHG emissions, and product flows of post-farm and agricultural input processes. In order to gain a more complete understanding of the total CC impacts of the meat sector, further research is necessary to reduce the uncertainty in the considered life cycle stages and to quantify the processes and meat products that have been excluded from this study.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication1st International Conference on Sustainable Energy and Resources Use in Food Chains (ICSEF 2017)
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781510848504
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
Event1st International Conference on Sustainable Energy and Resource Use in Food Chains - Windsor, United Kingdom
Duration: 19 Apr 201721 Apr 2017

Publication series

NameEnergy Procedia
ISSN (Print)1876-6102


Conference1st International Conference on Sustainable Energy and Resource Use in Food Chains
Abbreviated titleICSEF 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • climate change
  • decarbonisation
  • energy use
  • greenhouse gases
  • Meat sector


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