Does meat consumption exacerbate greenhouse gas emissions? Evidence from US data

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2021 Mar;28(9):11415-11429. doi: 10.1007/s11356-020-11331-9. Epub 2020 Oct 29.


This study empirically investigates the effect of meat consumption on greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) in the USA. The impact of meat consumption on greenhouse gas emissions is examined by controlling for economic growth and energy consumption. The empirical analysis finds that all these variables are cointegrated for the long run. Moreover, meat consumption aggravates greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, meat consumption (except for beef) has a U-shaped relationship with carbon emissions and an inverted U-shaped relationship with methane and nitrous oxide emissions. The causality analysis indicates a unidirectional causality running from meat consumption to greenhouse gas emissions. These empirical findings indicate that the US livestock sector has the potential to become more environmentally friendly with careful policy formulation and implementation.

Keywords: Animal agriculture; Greenhouse gas emissions; Meat consumption; USA.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis
  • Economic Development
  • Greenhouse Effect
  • Greenhouse Gases*
  • Meat
  • Methane / analysis
  • Nitrous Oxide / adverse effects
  • Nitrous Oxide / analysis


  • Greenhouse Gases
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Methane