What is Carbon Neutral Meat and how it helps the environment

97.7% of methane emissions (CH4) from cattle are caused by enteric fermentation during the process of rumination (what we know as a burp). In addition, the stools (urine and manure) in pastures generate nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) emissions. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and its heating power is 21 times greater than carbon dioxide., according to data from the latest GHG inventory in Argentina.

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On the other hand, livestock continues to be a key sector for sustainable socioeconomic development and, in particular, for our country. Because it contributes to food security, nutrition, poverty alleviation and the development of regional economies. Meanwhile, The market shows that more and more consumers incorporate environmental criteria in their purchasing decisions. In the world, 1 in 3 buyers has switched to similar products that have a positive impact on the environment and 60% of the population wants to reduce their environmental impact, but has a hard time finding sustainable products to achieve it, according to a study by Kantar of 2021.

With these two sides of the same coin we are presented with a challenge: increase and promote the productivity of this activity and achieve low-emission livestock to offer a product with low environmental impact. It’s possible?

The Carbon Neutral Meat Certification is presented as a solution that can guarantee meat consumers that the emissions of each kilo they consume will be offset and that their diet does not add to their carbon footprint.

But how is carbon neutral meat achieved? With silvopastoral livestock systems that integrate the sustainable production of livestock, pastures and wood in the same establishment. A natural solution based on planting trees in plots intended for grazing, without displacing livestock.

Thus, the carbon sequestered by the tree component during its growth offsets the methane emissions from livestock. In addition, depending on how pastures under the trees are managed, carbon may also be sequestered in the soil, increasing emission offset levels. To this is added that trees generate microclimates that favor animal welfare, protect the soil, conserve water; in short, they strengthen biodiversity.

In our country there is already a development in this sense, the San Francisco Project, located in Misiones. It is a Silvopastoral project that seeks to certify carbon neutral meat in order to market it to those who want to consume emission-free meat.

In livestock, without a complex traceability system from the field to the shelf, it is impossible to determine what happened during the meat production cycle. The certification process of Carbon Neutral Meat through a specific standard will allow to avoid the physical traceability of the meat. This will be done through a mechanism that monitors, accounts for, and records the balance of GHG emissions from silvopastoral systems.

In a context of climate crisis, it could be said that livestock farming is a problem. But today, you also have a great opportunity, which consumers are waiting for: carbon neutral meat.

CEO of GMF, a leading company in the region and the only one in Argentina in climate change mitigation.

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