Combined methane emissions from the world’s 15 largest meat and dairy companies are higher than some of the world’s largest countries, including Russia, Canada and Australia, according to a new study.

Analysis by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and the Changing Markets Foundation found that corporate emissions (5 meat companies and 10 dairy companies) accounted for more than 80% of total methane emissions in the European Union and 11.1% of the worlds.

According to the United Nations, the methane emitted by cows and their dung is far more powerful than carbon dioxide and traps heat 80 times more effectively, and emissions are rising rapidly.

In the report, the researchers acknowledged that a lack of corporate transparency makes it difficult to accurately measure greenhouse gas emissions. Results were estimated based on published data on meat and milk production and local animal husbandry practices.

The report was presented at the Cop27 climate conference in Egypt. At this conference, politicians and business leaders are facing accusations of discussing the role of agriculture and failing to come up with meaningful solutions.

Read: International Protein Trade Newsletter

If the 15 companies were treated as one country, it would be the 10th largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, according to the report. Researchers have found that their combined emissions exceed those of oil companies such as ExxonMobil, BP and Shell.

The researchers chose individual livestock companies such as JBS, the world’s largest meat company, and French dairy giant Danone. According to the report, JBS’s methane emissions are “far outperformed by any other company,” surpassing the combined emissions of livestock in France, Germany, Canada and New Zealand.

Tyson, the world’s second largest meat company, produces about as much cattle gas as Russia, and Dairy Farmers of America produces as much as the UK, according to researchers.

The report mandates governments to report greenhouse gas emissions from businesses, curbing emissions and climate change, including promoting a “just transition” away from factory farming by reducing the number of animals per farm. Companies should also set targets to reduce emissions and be more transparent about methane production, the report concludes.

The United States is resisting regulation of methane emissions from agriculture, opting instead to provide voluntary incentives to farmers and businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

However, Environmental Protection Agency is allowed to regulate these emissions, change is unlikely, said Kathy Day, climate policy coordinator for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

The 15 companies surveyed are based in 10 countries, five of which have increased methane emissions from livestock over the past decade, the report says. China’s emissions have increased by 17%, well ahead of other countries.

Read: International Protein Trade Newsletter

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