Reducing greenhouse gas emissions remains a priority across various industries, including food production. As the human population increases, production needs follow. However, in order to help mitigate the rise of global temperatures due to this growth, emissions reductions of about 80% are needed by 2050.

The World Wildlife Fund, a Moore Foundation partner through the foundation’s Conservation in Markets Initiative, works to conserve and restore global biodiversity, reduce humanity’s environmental footprint and ensure sustainable use of natural resources. They work in nearly 100 countries, collaborating with local communities to marry conservation science with these partners in the field.

One of their focuses is food production. Last year, WWF released commodity-focused briefs on measuring and mitigating greenhouse gases from ten different products – beef, chicken, coffee, maize, palm oil, pulp and paper, salmon, shrimp, soy, and tuna. These reports aim to collect and package available information on emissions from these products. The Moore Foundation supported this work and the creation of the reports specific to beef, chicken, soy and tuna. The reports are meant to be works in progress as new information will continue to emerge over time, but they provide insight into data we currently have.

In the production of the highlighted commodities, there are millions of farms across the world utilizing different practices based on their unique climate, soil and available resources, leading to a variety of production systems and sources of greenhouse gases. These emissions can change depending on how and where a commodity is produced, and these briefs help inform mitigation efforts by attempting to capture the variations and gaps in data.

There are several standout areas when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. For example, one of the biggest concerns is land-use change (seen in soy production among other areas) – one land-use type is converted to another, resulting in the carbon that was previously stored in aboveground and belowground biomass being released into the atmosphere as CO2.


Beef accounts for 25% of global meat production, and cattle digestive processes produce methane through enteric fermentation. Beef has the greatest average global emissions intensity per kilogram of all meats, but there are opportunities to reduce emissions through more efficient production.

Two main areas for climate action in cattle are mitigation and sequestration. Mitigation focuses on emissions from sources including enteric fermentation and manure, and sequestration focuses on increasing carbon stocks in soil or biomass on cattle grazing lands. Potential areas for improvement include preventing deforestation for pasture, improving grazing or rotational grazing, using feed supplements to reduce enteric fermentation, and selecting breeds for high weight gain relative to enteric fermentation.


Chicken is also one of the most-consumed meats in the world, and GHG emissions largely stem from their feed, with common ingredients including maize, soybeans and wheat where significant emissions come from land use.

Mitigation avenues include exploring deforestation and habitat conversion-free feed, high-quality diets that maximize growth per unit of feed, manure management, and managing energy consumption in poultry housing.


Soy production has increased rapidly and has been a large contributor to deforestation and habitat conversion, especially in South America. The major sources of greenhouse gas emissions include this land-use change as a result of deforestation or prairie and grassland conversion to cropland for soy, fertilizer production, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide from soil, and diesel use for farm machinery. Soil emissions can come from lime added to soils to correct soil pH and nitrogen fertilizers. After harvesting, crop residue decomposing or burning releases emissions, and diesel and electricity use during processes like crushing, transport and packaging also contributes. Areas to address may include reduced land use change and preventing deforestation, less intensive tillage, and intercropping.


Tuna are heavily fished through a variety of different methods, with emissions coming from the fishing, processing transport/storage, and packaging processes. There are fewer studies and tools available for greenhouse gas assessment in tuna compared to many other commodities, so there are certainly gaps in the data we have. However, the report identifies several mitigation strategies such as rebuilding fish stocks to increase higher catch-per-unit-effort, increasing low-fuel fishing by switch to methods such as purse seining, and improving the efficiency of packaging and shipping methods.

It is critical to build more sustainable food systems, and the WWF hopes that companies and farmers across the world will be able to use data like the commodity briefs to inform strategies and reach their science-based targets on the way to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Easily accessible information can enable a variety of approaches and catalyze collective action.



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Measuring and Mitigating Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Specific Commodities


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