FACT CHECK: Is Animal Agriculture The Biggest Contributor To Climate Change?

Anna Mock | Fact Check Reporter

A photo shared on Instagram purports animal agriculture is the greatest contributor to climate change, exceeding output from fossil fuels and other producers. 


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A post shared by Tiny Rescue (@tinyrescueshop)

Verdict: False

Data and climate experts suggests the biggest contributor to climate change is fossil fuels, not animal agriculture.

Fact Check: 

California farmers have been forced to cut down on crops and cull animals due to lack of water, with most blame being directed at climate change, USA Today reported. The issues surrounding the climate also have made families reconsider having biological children, according to ABC News.

The Instagram photo claims animal agriculture is the top contributor to climate change. The post uses a meme to share the information.

“When people talk about climate change but don’t mention how animal agriculture is the biggest contributor,” the image’s text reads, showing a picture of a man with a disgusted expression.

This claim is incorrect. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website shows a graph reporting that carbon dioxide from fossil fuels makes up 65% of emissions, whereas carbon dioxide via agriculture makes up only 11%. A pie chart showing global gas emissions by sector shows only 24% of emissions come from agriculture and forestry industries, the agency reports.

“The way in which manure from livestock is managed also contributes to CH4 and N2O emissions,” the agency reports. “Different manure treatment and storage methods affect how much of these greenhouse gases are produced.”

Fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas are the largest contributor to climate change by a wide margin, according to the United Nations website. The organization also suggests food production also produces greenhouse gasses, especially with farm equipment and fishing boats.

“The most recent scientific consensus from the IPCC (the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) clearly refutes the claim that animal agriculture is the biggest contributor to climate change,” a spokesperson for Climate Central, a nonprofit that researches climate change, said in an email to Check Your Fact

The spokesperson also directed Check Your Fact to the IPCC’s Mitigation of Climate Change report from April 2022, which shows data explaining the biggest contributions to climate change, with most data pointing to the use of fossil fuels as the single-greatest contributor.

Check Your Fact has reached out to the EPA for comment and will update this piece accordingly if one is received.  (RELATED:  Did Bill Gates Refer To Climate Change As A ‘Scam’?)

This is not the first time climate change has been the subject of misinformation on social media. Check Your Fact recently debunked a photo appearing to show a CNN article claiming climate change would be back “next summer.”

Anna Mock

Fact Check Reporter


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