Animal Agriculture and Emission Reductions: The Viability of a Farm Transition Offset Protocol

100 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2021 Last revised: 20 Dec 2021

Date Written: April 22, 2021


Animal agriculture is one of the leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon offset markets have emerged as a mechanism to allow entities to reduce their overall climate impact by financing projects that decrease emissions elsewhere in the economy. This is the first report to analyze the viability of an offset protocol that credits farms for transitioning from raising livestock to growing crops, based on the difference in emissions between these two types of operations. This report finds that a livestock-to-plants farm transition project can satisfy all of the criteria for offset protocols. This report then provides a preliminary methodology to calculate the emission reductions associated with a farm transition, finding that farm transitions may merit offset credits for emission reductions equivalent to approximately three years of the original farm’s emission. Crediting additional years of emission reductions may be possible as plant-based alternatives improve and as certain regulations are placed on industrial animal farming. Carbon offset registries, legislative bodies, and administrative agencies may implement these findings to help address the environmental and social harms associated with our current food system.

Keywords: carbon market, offset credit, animal agriculture, farm transition, plant-based, climate change, livestock, carbon credit, offset protocol, emissions trading

JEL Classification: Q14, Q51, Q54, Q56, Q58

Suggested Citation

Rutinel, Manny and Quaade, Sebastian, Animal Agriculture and Emission Reductions: The Viability of a Farm Transition Offset Protocol (April 22, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Manny Rutinel (Contact Author)

Yale Law School ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06510
United States

Sebastian Quaade

Yale University ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States

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