Received October 27th 2011 // Accepted February 8th 2013 // Published online March 3rd 2013
GUZMAN, M.L. 1; SAGER, R.L. 2
Pollution and global warming are issues with great social impact, and address the emission of GreenHouse Gases (GHG) from different angles, as in the case of the livestock sector. Although it may contribute to global warming, it may also help mitigate the effect of these gases by reducing the carbon footprint of their products.
Argentina is part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Law No. 24.295) through the Kyoto Protocol (Law No. 25.438), and assumed the responsibility of reducing GHG emissions, among other obligations. The latest reports of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) show that emissions from the agricultural sector in Argentina represent approximately 50% of total GHGs emissions, where methane accounts for 35% and is almost exclusively the product of enteric fermentation in cattle. However, a critical analysis of such inventories show that it is necessary to improve the source data base by integrating not only the animal categories but also the production systems and fodder offer.
Also, it is appropriate to avoid the use of default factors proposed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In this context, the objectives of this study were to obtain better information on the livestock activity involved in the involved in the preparation of national inventories. To accomplish that goal we estimated the enteric methane emission through a detailed characterization of beef systems in the province of San Luis. Using the IPCC Tier II methodology, we estimated the emission of enteric CH4 from beef production systems in the province for 2009. Values were of 2.128,82 Gg CO2eq. (Gigagrams of carbon dioxide equivalent). While the contribution to the total emission is low, it represents a social cost of 13,04 kg CO2eq/kg of meat for the province, a trend aggravated in recent years by the increase of cattle stock. Therefore, the need for strategic changes in production systems become increasingly important. These changes can help the meat chain of the province become more sustainable from the environmental, social and economic points of view.
Keywords: Enteric methane, beef production, San Luis.