Performance improvements in the beef and sheep production sector in England have resulted in lower GHG emissions in almost every decade for the past 40 years, a new modelling project has estimated.
The beef sector has reduced its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) output by an equivalent of 9.4% every decade. The figures for sheep, though hindered by a lack of consistent quality data, still showed a reduction over the period and in the last ten years alone this delivered a credible reduction of 9.3% through greater output per ewe and reduced reliance on artificial fertiliser.
The work, commissioned by EBLEX working with The E-C02 Project, using historic performance and production data for beef cattle between 1970 and 2010, backed by estimated values based on E-CO2 models, shows the beef carbon footprint fell from 23.05kg of carbon dioxide equivalents (kg CO2-e) per kilogram of liveweight, to 14.41kg CO2-e. For sheep, the figure fell from 13.8kg CO2-e to 11.78kg CO2-e over that period.
However, with the UK Climate Change Act 2008 requiring an overall reduction of 80% in GHGs from 1990 levels by 2050 across the UK economy, the scale of challenge for beef and sheep meat producers should not be underestimated.