Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions on Cattle Ranches in the Brazilian Amazon (2016)

Client Organization: 
Imaflora and the Rainforest Alliance
Project Location : 
Mato Grosso and Amazonas, Brazil
Summary of Project Idea: 

With the fastest-growing herd of any country, Brazil’s cattle industry is frequently cited as the country’s single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. In the last 50 years, over 17% of the Amazon has been deforested, largely in support of ranching. But Brazil has been making strides in preserving the Amazon in recent years, and has also pledged to reduce carbon emissions by roughly 36 percent in by 2020. Considering growing global demand for beef, the cattle industry has an important role to play in meeting emissions goals in Brazil.

Our research focuses on quantifying GHG emissions as they relate to cattle and pasture management, paying particular attention to the role that participation in a sustainable intensification program or a sustainability certification has on GHG outcomes. The objective of this study is to answer the following questions: (1) Does the ranch-level balance of greenhouse gas emissions related to raising cattle differ between ranches that do and do not participate in an intensified pasture management program; and (2) What implications do these estimated greenhouse gas emissions have for the contribution of the cattle sector to total Brazilian emissions?

SEAS Program Areas: 
Environmental Policy and Planning
Environmental Informatics
Environmental Justice
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Arun Agrawal and Shelie Miller
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Meghan Bogaerts, MS/MPP Environmental Informatics
  • Ian Robinson, MS/MBA Environmental Policy and Planning 
  • Mikaela Rodkin, MS/MBA Environmental Justice
  • Lora Cirhigiri, MPP Public Policy
Project Status: 
Past Project