Grazed and Confused? set out to answer the question: can grazing livestock help to mitigate climate change? If so, by how much?
Environmental impact studies generally show that ruminants, such as cattle, generate high greenhouse gas emissions per unit of food produced. However, some stakeholders claim that ruminants reared in well-managed grazing systems could actually be a net benefit to the climate, by encouraging carbon sequestration.
What did they find?
The report concludes that good grazing management can boost the sequestration of carbon in some locally specific circumstances, but that this effect is time-limited, reversible, and at the global level, substantially outweighed by the greenhouse gas emissions the animals generate. In short, while grazing systems may deliver a range of benefits and services – all of which merit further research – they are a net contributor to climate change, with limited potential for contributing to climate change mitigation.
Thanks go to the funders who have made the animation possible: Devil (Delivering Food Security on Limited Land), CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), and ETH Zürich. Thanks also to the whole Grazed and Confused? research project team and to Martin Pickles, who created the animation, and to our ex-colleague Sam Lee-Gammage, who wrote the script and produced the animation.