The FAO's new report "Tackling climate change through livestock," provides updated estimates of the global pig sector's contribution to global warming, as well as potential measures to reduce emissions.

This new report, which updates its 2006 report "Livestock's long shadow," concluded that GHG emissions by the livestock sector could be reduced by up to 30 percent through a wider adoption of existing best practices and technologies in feeding, health and husbandry, and manure management.

In pig production, precision feeding, breeding, and better animal health care are areas to reduce emissions due to feed production and manure management. Some highlights include:

  • Pig supply chains are estimated to produce 0.7 gigatonnes CO2-eq per year, approximately 9 percent of the livestock sector's emissions.
  • Feed production contributes 60 percent of the emissions arising from global pig supply chains, and manure storage/processing 27 percent. The remaining 13 percent is from a combination of post-farm processing and transport of meat 6 percent, direct and indirect energy use in livestock production three percent and enteric fermentation 3 percent.
  • For feed emissions, N2O resulting from the application of synthetic and organic fertilizers in feed crop production accounts for 17 percent of total pig emissions, while CO2 from the use of energy in field operations, crop transport and processing, and the manufacture of fertilizer and synthetic feed materials accounts for 27 percent. An additional 13 percent of the total emissions are from land-use change driven by increased demand for feed crops. 

There is a significant potential to reduce emission from the livestock sector, across all species, systems and regions, with the greatest potential for cuts found in low productivity ruminant livestock systems in South Asia, Latin America and Africa.

The potential for achieving emissions reductions are mainly based on technologies and practices that improve production efficiency at animal and herd levels. Efficiency gains could therefore be achieved by improving practices, and do not necessitate changing production systems.