Knowledge for better food systems

The Impacts of Climate Change Mitigation Strategies on Animal Welfare

This paper provides a useful overview of the effects that measures to reduce GHGs from the livestock sector can have upon the welfare of farmed animals.  It argues that most approaches geared at seek to increasing the intensity of production via changes in breeding, feeding and housing may increase productivity per unit of GHG s emitted but they come at the expense of animal health and wellbeing.

Instead, the authors propose alternative approaches which, by improving animal nutrition, health and longevity that can offer win wins for health and GHGs. They also highlight the potential for mitigation through improved manure and land management, and by reducing the overall number of animals farmed through reductions in food waste and the adoption of less meat intensive diets.  


The objective of this review is to point out that the global dialog on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in animal agriculture has, thus far, not adequately considered animal welfare in proposed climate change mitigation strategies. Many suggested approaches for reducing emissions, most of which could generally be described as calls for the intensification of production, can have substantial effects on the animals. Given the growing world-wide awareness and concern for animal welfare, many of these approaches are not socially sustainable. This review identifies the main emission abatement strategies in the climate change literature that would negatively affect animal welfare and details the associated problems. Alternative strategies are also identified as possible solutions for animal welfare and climate change, and it is suggested that more attention be focused on these types of options when allocating resources, researching mitigation strategies, and making policy decisions on reducing emissions from animal agriculture.


Shields, S., Orme-Evans, G., (2015). The Impacts of Climate Change Mitigation Strategies on

Animal Welfare, Animals, 5, 361-394; doi:10.3390/ani5020361

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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