May 12, 2016

CLF Responds to Misleading White Paper about Meat and Climate Change

Claire Fitch

Claire Fitch

Program Officer, Food System Policy Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

A few weeks ago, Dr. Frank Mitloehner—a Professor at the University of California, Davis—released a white paper, “Livestock’s Contributions to Climate Change: Facts and Fiction.” In it, Dr. Mitloehner uses incomplete greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions statistics to downplay the environmental impacts of animal agriculture. He states that livestock production is responsible for only 4.2% of U.S. GHG emissions, which fails to account for several major emissions sources (including the production of animal feed, the transportation of feed and animal products, and several other sources). The paper is critical of efforts, such as Meatless Monday, that encourage citizens to understand how their diet choices affect the environment and begin to reduce intake of animal products.

The Center for a Livable Future has provided technical assistance and scientific expertise to the national Meatless Monday campaign since 2003. We have addressed Dr. Mitloehner’s mischaracterization of the evidence and continue to support the adoption of Meatless Mondays as an achievable way for most Americans to take a step toward reducing their environmental footprint. Read our complete response to Dr. Mitloehner’s white paper here.


  1. Posted by Matthew

    Thanks for the work that you do! It’s great having an org like CLF advocating for our future.

  2. Posted by Annie Leymarie

    Dr Mitloehner was of course appointed by the FAO to head a partnership that influenced the FAO’s 2013 report on livestock, with a downwards revision of the FAO’s previous evaluation of livestock’s share of anthropogenic greenhouse gases. He has worked for the livestock industry and got funding from it.
    For instance Paul Mahony on his Terrastendo website has written (with references provided):
    “A large proportion of the organisations that partnered with the FAO in reviewing its methodology were major participants in the livestock sector. They included the European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation, the International Dairy Federation, the International Meat Secretariat, the International Egg Commission, and the International Poultry Council. [15]
    The FAO is now indicating that meat consumption will increase by more than 70 percent by 2050, and has suggested various approaches for reducing relevant emissions. However, any improvement in the emissions intensity of production would be marginal relative to the reductions that could be achieved by a general move toward plant-based products.
    The partnership also included the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which has been accused of working with major business organisations that allegedly use the WWF brand to help improve their green credentials, while acting against the interests of the environment. [16]
    As I have reported elsewhere, the partnership was chaired by Dr. Frank Mitloehner of the University of California, Davis, who has disclosed research funding from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. [17]”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *