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The Big Picture: The table to the top summarizes the categories of livestock-based emissions and our estimates of their size. We begin with the FAO’s 7,516 million tons of CO2e per year attributable to livestock, an amount established by adding up Greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions involved in clearing land to graze livestock and grow feed, keeping livestock alive, and processing and transporting the end products.
We show that 25,048 million tons of CO2e attributable to livestock have been undercounted or overlooked; of that subtotal, 3,000 million tons are misallocated and 22,048 million tons are entirely uncounted. When uncounted tons are added to the global inventory of atmospheric GHGs, that inventory rises from 41,755 million tons to 63,803 million tons. FAO’s 7,516 million tons of CO2e attributable to livestock then decline from 18 percent of worldwide GHGs to 11.8 percent.
The extra emissions resulting from using land for livestock and feed can be estimated to be 2,672 million tons of CO2e, or 4.2 percent of annual GHG emissions worldwide.