Brazil’s Food Sector Responsible for 74% of 2021 Emissions, Primarily Due to Deforestation, Says Study

by Ella

In 2021, Brazil, renowned as the world’s leading exporter of beef and soybeans, witnessed a startling revelation: its food production sector was accountable for a staggering 74% of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study released by the environmental group Climate Observatory on Tuesday.

The study highlights that while the bulk of emissions does not directly stem from food production itself, it is the extensive deforestation undertaken to transform native landscapes into farmland and pastures that serves as the primary contributor to carbon release from Brazil into the atmosphere.


“This report should be read by agribusiness representatives and the government as a wake-up call,” emphasized Marcio Astrini, the executive secretary of the Climate Observatory. “It demonstrates, beyond any doubt, that agribusiness will determine whether Brazil is a climate hero or villain.”


Out of the staggering 1.8 billion tons of greenhouse gases emitted by Brazil in 2021 due to food production, nearly 78% was attributed to beef production. This figure encompasses emissions linked to deforestation for livestock farming and the pollution stemming from beef processing facilities.


In response to the study, Abiec, a prominent lobby group representing large beef producers in Brazil, had no immediate comment.


To arrive at these figures, the Climate Observatory’s calculations accounted for various elements, including deforestation and land use alterations, methane emissions caused by cow burps, as well as energy consumption and waste resulting from agricultural and industrial processes.

The study, being the first of its kind, did not provide historical data for comparative purposes. When positioned alongside other nations, Brazil’s beef industry alone would be recognized as the world’s seventh-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, surpassing major economies like Japan.

These findings underscore the critical role that Brazil’s agribusiness sector plays in shaping the nation’s environmental stance. It calls for urgent action and collective efforts to address the environmental impact associated with food production, particularly beef, which has emerged as a substantial contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the country.



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