Can DEFRA be trusted with the climate? | Brussels Blog

Can DEFRA be trusted with the climate?

posted by on 3rd Jan 2011

Nervous of it’s own research?

The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) commissioned some work on the carbon footprints of beef, lamb and other animal products from Dr Adrian Williams at Cranfield University. This work is hard to find on the DEFRA website unless the key code “IS0205” is first obtained from Dr William’s site.

Dr William’s research fonds that 1 kg Beef (dead-weight) has a carbon footprint equal to14 kg CO2e (or 25 kg CO2e if greenhouse gasses are measured over 20 years). Some details can be found in the resources section of the Green Ration Book. The Green Ration Book compares carbon footprints with governemnt targets and estimates a 12oz beef steak to be 5 days’ of your ration for consumables!

Using the “IS0205” code it is also possible to find a later publication “The Environmental Impact of Livestock Production, a review of research and literature”. This waters down the impact of Dr William’s findings. The Executive summary starts

“The main domestic livestock sectors produce a wide range of products (food, leather, wool etc) and public services, such as employment, landscape and cultural heritage. However livestock production impacts on the environment in a variety of ways, both positive and negative, but there are some systems where there is greater potential for the environment to be compromised in order to achieve efficient production. The key is to minimise negative impacts in the most cost-effective way.”

DEFRA’s downgrading of climate change with employment, landscape and cultural heritage is enhanced by their choice of conversion factor for the methane generated by livestock. DEFRA chooses 21 times CO2, others argue for 105 times CO2, meaning that beef and sheep meat are much worse for the environment than DEFRA argues.

There are easier ways, which are more climate friendly, to create employment– see Hansen’s Carbon Fee on

DEFRA on air travel

Air travel 1: The frequently asked questions on the UK Government Act on CO2 Carbon Calculator says air travel now accounts for 6.3% of the UK’s total CO2 emissions1.

Air travel 2: Hansard (2 May 2007) records that emissions from flights departing the UK contributed approximately 13 per cent. of total UK emissions in 2005 when the radiative forcing index is used2


1 “Air travel now accounts for 6.3% of the UK’s total CO2 emissions and the full climate impact of aviation goes beyond the effects of CO2. Apart from emitting CO2, aircraft contribute to climate change through the emission of nitrogen oxides (NOx). This forms the greenhouse gas ozone, especially so when emitted at cruise altitudes. Aircraft also trigger the formation of condensation trails, or contrails, and are suspected of enhancing the formation of cirrus clouds, both of which add to the overall global climate change warming effect. These extra impacts are examples of effects which are collectively known as “radiative forcing”. Recent scientific studies have shown that including the climatic impacts of non-CO2 emissions from planes could mean that aviation’s climate change impact is almost double that of its CO2 emissions alone.”

2 “Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the most recent estimate is of the percentage contribution of aviation, based on emissions by all aircraft departing from UK airports, and including the radiative forcing effect, to UK climate change emissions. [134036]”

“Gillian Merron [holding answer 26 April 2007]: International aviation is not included in the UK’s climate change inventory as there is no internationally agreed method for allocating such emissions among states. In 2005 aviation represented 6.3 per cent. of UK emissions, calculated as a proportion of emissions in the UK inventory plus emissions from international aviation and shipping departing the UK. Detailed data may be viewed at:”

“As the ‘Future of Air Transport Progress Report’ (December 2006) noted, aviation emissions arising from the combustion of kerosene include carbon dioxide, water vapour, nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide, particulates and other compounds. These give rise to ‘radiative forcing’ impacts. The total radiative impacts were estimated by the EC TRADEOFF project to be approximately twice those of carbon dioxide (excluding cirrus cloud formation).”

“Using a radiative forcing multiplier of two, emissions from flights departing the UK contributed approximately 13 per cent. of total UK emissions in 2005. However, the figures for non-aviation sources do not include any radiative forcing attributable to them, as conclusive figures are not available.”

The above link to the DEFRA website doesn’t work anymore.

And another:

The Wikipedia entry on personal carbon trading contains this link:

DEFRA press release – 8th May 2008

The link does not work so it is difficult to determine if this concerns Mr Elderkin’s research. It would be interesting to see the research.


the weather also depends on the cloud formations, there are some cloud formations that give so much rain.;

My own, personal blog
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Clement Turybury ( January 10, 2013 at 4:29 pm )

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