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A global strategy to mitigate the environmental impact of China’s ruminant consumption boom

Du, Yuanyuan, Ge, Ying, Ren, Yuan, Fan, Xing, Pan, Kaixuan, Lin, Linshan, Wu, Xu, Min, Yong, Meyerson, Laura A., Heino, Mikko, Chang, Scott X., Liu, Xiaozi, Mao, Feng ORCID:, Yang, Guofu, Peng, Changhui, Qu, Zelong, Chang, Jie and Didham, Raphael K. 2018. A global strategy to mitigate the environmental impact of China’s ruminant consumption boom. Nature Communications 9 , 4133. 10.1038/s41467-018-06381-0

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Rising demand for ruminant meat and dairy products in developing countries is expected to double anthropogenic greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions from livestock by 2050. Mitigation strategies are urgently needed to meet demand while minimizing environmental impacts. Here, we develop scenarios for mitigating emissions under local vs global supply policies using data from 308 livestock farms across mainland China, where emissions intensities are ~50% higher than those in developed nations. Intensification of domestic production and globalized expansion through increased trade result in reductions in global emissions by nearly 30% over a business-as-usual scenario, but at the expense of trading partners absorbing the associated negative externalities of environmental degradation. Only adoption of a mixed strategy combining global best-practice in sustainable intensification of domestic production, with increased green-source trading as a short-term coping strategy, can meet 2050 demand while minimizing the local and global environmental footprint of China’s ruminant consumption boom.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Additional Information: This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence
Publisher: Nature Research
ISSN: 2041-1723
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 27 July 2020
Date of Acceptance: 28 August 2018
Last Modified: 07 May 2023 06:42

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