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Ruminants, climate change and climate policy

Greenhouse gas emissions from ruminant meat production are significant. Reductions in global ruminant numbers could make a substantial contribution to climate change mitigation goals and yield important social and environmental co-benefits.

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Figure 1: Compound- and sector-specific emissions of greenhouse gases, associated radiative forcing and global ruminant numbers over the past 50 years.
Figure 2: Average carbon equivalent footprint of protein-rich solid foods per kilogram of product from a global meta-analysis of life-cycle assessment studies.


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We thank R. Lamplugh, B. Kauffman, E. Stehfest and R. Comforto for comments on an early draft of this paper. W.R. was an Oregon State University L.L. Stewart faculty scholar during this project. P.S. is a Royal Society-Wolfson Research Merit Award holder. H.H. gratefully acknowledges research funding from EU-FP7 (Volante, grant no. 265104) and the Austrian Science Funds (project no. P20812-G11). S.A.M. acknowledges the support of the NOAA's Climate Program Office and its Atmospheric Chemistry, Carbon Cycle and Climate Program. C.M. is supported by the Australian Research Council (FT100100338). D.B. thanks the Climate and Land Use Alliance for its support of the Union of Concerned Scientists' Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative.

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Correspondence to William J. Ripple.

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Ripple, W., Smith, P., Haberl, H. et al. Ruminants, climate change and climate policy. Nature Clim Change 4, 2–5 (2014).

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