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Estimating greenhouse gas emissions from cattle raising in Brazil


  • Mercedes Bustamante


  • Carlos Nobre
  • Roberto Smeraldi
  • Ana Aguiar
  • Luis Barioni
  • Laerte Ferreira
  • Karla Longo
  • Peter May
  • Alexandre Pinto
  • Jean Ometto


The study estimated, for the first time, the greenhouse gas emissions associated with cattle raising in Brazil, focusing on the period from 2003 to 2008 and the three principal sources: 1) portion of deforestation resulting in pasture establishment and subsequent burning of felled vegetation; 2) pasture burning; and 3) bovine enteric fermentation. Deforestation for pasture establishment was only considered for the Amazon and Cerrado. Emissions from pasture burning and enteric fermentation were accounted for the entire country. The consolidated emissions estimate lies between approximately 813 Mt CO 2 eq in 2008 (smallest value) and approximately 1,090 Mt CO 2 eq in 2003 (greatest value). The total emissions associated with Amazon cattle ranching ranged from 499 to 775 Mt CO 2 eq, that of the Cerrado from 229 to 231 Mt CO 2 eq, and that of the rest of the country between 84 and 87 Mt CO 2 eq. The full set of emissions originating from cattle raising is responsible for approximately half of all Brazilian emissions (estimated to be approximately 1,055 Mt CO 2 eq in 2005), even without considering cattle related sources not explicitly estimated in this study, such as energy use for transport and refrigeration along the beef and derivatives supply chain. The potential for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions offered by the Brazilian cattle industry is very high and might constitute Brazil’s most important opportunity for emissions mitigation. The study offers a series of policy recommendations for mitigation that can be implemented by public and private administrators at a low cost relative to other greenhouse gas reduction options. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Mercedes Bustamante & Carlos Nobre & Roberto Smeraldi & Ana Aguiar & Luis Barioni & Laerte Ferreira & Karla Longo & Peter May & Alexandre Pinto & Jean Ometto, 2012. "Estimating greenhouse gas emissions from cattle raising in Brazil," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 115(3), pages 559-577, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:climat:v:115:y:2012:i:3:p:559-577
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0443-3

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    Cited by:

    1. de Oliveira Silva, Rafael & Barioni, Luis G. & Albertini, Tiago Zanett & Eory, Vera & Topp, Cairistiona F.E. & Fernandes, Fernando A. & Moran, Dominic, 2015. "Developing a nationally appropriate mitigation measure from the greenhouse gas GHG abatement potential from livestock production in the Brazilian Cerrado," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 48-55.
    2. Newton, Peter & Agrawal, Arun & Wollenberg, Lini, 2013. "Interventions for achieving sustainability in tropical forest and agricultural landscapes:," CAPRi working papers 110, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    3. Singh, Akshit & Mishra, Nishikant & Ali, Syed Imran & Shukla, Nagesh & Shankar, Ravi, 2015. "Cloud computing technology: Reducing carbon footprint in beef supply chain," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 462-471.
    4. World Bank, 2017. "Brazil’s INDC Restoration and Reforestation Target," World Bank Other Operational Studies 28588, The World Bank.
    5. Bowman, Maria S., 2016. "Impact of foot-and-mouth disease status on deforestation in Brazilian Amazon and cerrado municipalities between 2000 and 2010," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 25-40.
    6. Cardoso, Abmael S. & Berndt, Alexandre & Leytem, April & Alves, Bruno J.R. & de Carvalho, Isabel das N.O. & de Barros Soares, Luis Henrique & Urquiaga, Segundo & Boddey, Robert M., 2016. "Impact of the intensification of beef production in Brazil on greenhouse gas emissions and land use," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 86-96.

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