An Austrian and Dutch study has developed an enhancement to the commonly used life cycle assessment method for foods, and found that one kilogram of Dutch chicken has the lowest CO2 balance among animal products.

The study, conducted by the University of Vienna and the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, showed that the production of one kilogram of beef in Brazil produces 335 kilograms of CO2, which corresponds roughly to the emissions of driving an average European car for more than 1,600 kilometers. Production of Dutch chicken meat generates 6.2 kilograms of CO2, or 31 car kilometers.

The innovation is the integration into the calculations of the area used for production in addition to the emissions resulting from the production of food. Despite playing a central role for the climate, area use effects have been ignored in climate balances until now. Occupation of huge areas prevents natural vegetation from regrowing. This vegetation would absorb CO2 from the atmosphere in much the same way a sponge would and stabilize the world climate.