Emissions from Animal Agriculture—16.5% Is the New Minimum Figure

Richard Twine*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

    32 Citations (Scopus)
    53 Downloads (Pure)


    Knowledge production within the climate sciences is quickly taken up by multiple stakeholders, reproduced in scientific citation and the broader culture, even when it is no longer accurate. This article accomplishes two goals: firstly, it contributes to the clarification of the quantification of emissions from animal agriculture, and secondly, it considers why the dominant framing of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) on this subject focuses on maximizing production efficiency. Specifically, analysing the FAO’s own work on this topic shows that the often-used FAO estimate that emissions from animal agriculture amount to 14.5% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is now out of date. In returning to the FAO’s own explanation of its data sources and its more recent analysis of emissions from animal agriculture, this article finds that the figure of minimum estimate should be updated to 16.5%. The tendency of the FAO to prioritize a technological approach focused on making animal production more “eco-efficient” is critically examined in light of many other evidence-based calls for reductions in animal consumption. An explanation for this FAO approach is offered in terms of a type of epistemological bias.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number6276
    Pages (from-to)e6276
    Issue number11
    Early online date2 Jun 2021
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Jun 2021


    • animal agriculture
    • climate change
    • emissions
    • epistemological bias
    • FAO
    • GLEAM
    • sociology of science
    • United Nations

    Research Centres

    • Centre for Human Animal Studies


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