Reducing Enteric Methane for improving food security and livelihoods

Why is enteric methane important?

Addressing enteric methane can deliver quick and immediate wins for climate change mitigation

  • Enteric methane is a Short-Lived Climate Pollutant (SLCP) and has a life span of 12 years – in comparison to carbon dioxide (CO2), parts of which stay in the atmosphere for many hundreds to thousands of years. Methane traps 84 times more heat than CO2 over the first two decades after it is released into the air.
  • Even over a 100-year period, the comparative warming effect of enteric methane is 34 times greater than carbon dioxide (per kg). Therefore, reducing the rate of enteric methane emissions would help reduce the rate of warming in the near term and, if emissions reductions are sustained, can also help limit peak warming.
  • Globally, ruminant livestock produce about 3.3 Gt CO2 eq. of enteric methane annually. Cattle account for 77 percent of these emissions (2.5 Gt), buffalo for 13 percent (0.43 Gt) and small ruminants (sheep and goats) for the remainder (0.31 Gt).




Fully avoiding enteric methane emissions is not achievable in the short term due to the significant growth in the demand for ruminant products. But there are opportunities to substantially reduce emissions per unit of product, i.e. emission intensity. These opportunities generally consist of improving the efficiency of production via the implementation of known practices or technologies that result in greater yields per animal and per unit of feed.