Meeting the demand: An estimation of potential future greenhouse gas emissions from meat production
Current production processes for meat products have been shown to have a significant impact on the environment, accounting for between 15% and 24% of current greenhouse gas emissions. Meat consumption has been increasing at a fantastic rate and is likely to continue to do so into the future. If this demand is to be met, technology used in production in the form of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) will need to be expanded. This paper estimates future meat consumption and discusses the potential aggregate environmental impact of this production if the use of CAFOs is expanded. I first separate meat into beef, chicken and pig products and estimate the elasticities associated with each product in order to forecast the world demand for meat. Using research on the environmental impact of food production in the US, which uses one of the most efficient CAFO processes in the world, I then calculate the total potential greenhouse emissions of this meat production and discuss the impact of these consumption patterns. I find that, under an expanded CAFO system, meat production in the future will still be a large producer of greenhouse gases, accounting for up to 6.3% of current greenhouse gas emissions in 2030.
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