Meat & Livestock News

Frank Mitloehner Unveils Livestock’s Role in Climate Mitigation at COP28


  • UC-Davis’s Frank Mitloehner champions livestock’s potential in curbing greenhouse emissions, spotlighting efficiency over diet changes.
  • Highlighting methane’s shorter lifespan compared to CO2, Mitloehner presents a nuanced view of livestock’s environmental impact.
  • Emphasising practical farm-level strategies, he outlines a roadmap for the livestock sector to contribute to climate goals.

In a compelling presentation at COP28 in Dubai, Frank Mitloehner, a distinguished expert from UC-Davis specialising in livestock and air quality, shed light on an often-overlooked narrative within the climate change dialogue.

During the Animal Ag Sustainability Summit, part of the International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta, Mitloehner articulated a vision where the livestock industry emerges as a pivotal player in the global effort to cap warming at the critical thresholds of 1.5-2.0°C.

Mitloehner’s discourse revolved around the imperative of setting tangible, comprehensible objectives for emission reduction within the livestock domain. He underscored the distinct properties of methane — a byproduct of ruminant digestion — emphasising its transient presence in the atmosphere relative to the enduring impact of CO2. This distinction, he argued, positions the livestock sector uniquely in the climate change battle, provided that methane emissions are stabilised or, ideally, diminished.

Farm-Level Interventions: A Path to Lower Emissions

Contrary to the popular discourse advocating for dietary shifts as a means to combat climate change, Mitloehner presented a case for targeted interventions at the production level. He illustrated the relatively minor impact of individual dietary choices on one’s carbon footprint compared to the potential of optimised farming practices.

By focusing on production efficiency, genetic advancements, and enhanced animal health and nutrition, Mitloehner believes the livestock industry can significantly reduce its environmental footprint.

California’s agricultural sector serves as a testament to this approach, with ambitious targets to slash methane emissions by 40% come 2030. Through a combination of herd management, methane capture technologies, and dietary innovations, the state’s dairy and beef producers are not just on track to meet these goals but also to contribute positively to California’s broader climate objectives.

Emerging Technologies and Persistent Hurdles

Mitloehner introduced cutting-edge solutions, such as dietary supplements and rumen monitoring devices, poised to revolutionise methane management in livestock. These innovations promise to curtail emissions substantially, marking a step change in how the industry addresses its environmental responsibilities.

However, the journey is fraught with challenges, notably the need for enhanced investment, especially from governmental bodies, to propel these initiatives forward. Mitloehner’s call to action underscores a collective responsibility towards empowering the livestock sector to fulfil its potential as a cornerstone of climate mitigation strategies.