Reduction of GHG Emissions by regional specific reduced Livestock Production resulting from dietary Changes in the EU

J.P. Lesschen, P.J. Kuikman, N. Sikirica, Henk Westhoek, O. Oenema

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterAcademic


The contribution of livestock production in the European Union (EU) to GHG emissions is well established. Various technical options are available to reduce GHG from livestock production and clearly these options have their limits.
An alternative pathway to reduce GHG emissions and other environmental effects is through dietary changes and subsequent changes in production levels. Current EU diets are relatively rich in animal protein compared to WHO
recommendations and GHG emissions might be significantly reduced when animal protein is replaced by plant-based alternatives.
We present an integrated approach for the EU27 in which we assessed GHG emissions for alternative diets, in which the consumption of meat, dairy and eggs is lowered by 50% and replaced by plant based food. Two contrasting land
use change scenarios were examined; i) a high-prices scenario with maximum cereal production, and ii) a greening scenario with extensification of grassland use and production of perennial bio-energy crops on excess arable land.
Our first conclusion is that a 50% reduction in the livestock component of EU diets, with corresponding changes in agriculture, will lead to substantial GHG reductions, of which the impact is generally larger than the estimated
mitigation potentials from technical mitigation measures. In this analysis, we have assumed that the reduction in consumption of livestock products is followed by a parallel reduction of livestock production in the EU.
However, it is unlikely that such a parallel reduction in livestock production relative to the current production levels will take place accross EU. It is more likely that specific EU regions that are most vulnerable to climate change will see
their production levels affected more or differently than less vulnerable regions. And also that reduction of livestock production would preferably take place in those regions where production efficiencies in terms of GHG emissions are
relatively low. Such changes will likely be driven by economics of livestock production. On the basis of a set of simple assumptions we present GHG emissions for these 2 scenarios where differentiated responses across EU are accounted for.
The second approach might result in more effective mitigation of GHG emissions in the EU as a whole and will make relatively more land available for other agricultural production or land use and increase the production efficiency
across EU. This analysis allows for the design of differentiated and effective policy support to achieve targets on both mitigation and adaptive livestock production.
Acknowledgement: AnimalChange (FP7-266018) and Ministry Economic Affairs NL, KB12
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventLivestock, Climate Change and food security conference, Madrid, Spain -
Duration: 19 May 201420 May 2014


ConferenceLivestock, Climate Change and food security conference, Madrid, Spain


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