Switching From Meat to Fish

  • By Admin Hima EP
  • In TOC
  • Posted 15 Maret 2017

Switching from Meat to Fish; in order to Contribute Reducing Climate Change and Enhance Indonesia’s Economy 
By: Amar Razak Akbari

It cannot be denied that the use of fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas are the main sources of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions. Basically, everything that human do such as, transportation that we used every day, electricity generator that used coal for its fuel to fulfill our electricity needs, resulting a great amount of emissions. In this article, the topic will concern not on fossil fuels as the main sources of climate change, but on livestock sector as the underrated source of climate change. As the matter of fact, according to the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) (2006), at least 7,516 million metric ton of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) are emitted from livestock sector or  equal to 18% of annual worldwide GHG emissions. There are a lot of factors contributing to this 18% annual GHG emissions. 
First of all, a cow on average release 100 kilograms methane per year from its enteric fermentation system which equal to 2,300 CO2 per year because the effect of methane to the climate change are 23 times higher than CO2 (FAO, 2006). It is quite astonishing that a cow itself can produce high amount of methane by eating, now imagine that there are million or even billion cows to fulfill the needs 7 billion people on earth. Second, look at this figure below from Food and Agriculture Organization (2013). As mentioned before, the main sources is from enteric fermentation which accounted almost 50% of GHG emission for both milk and meat production, but there are other factors that also produce Co2 in order to processing milk and meat such as fertilizer & crop residues that emitted 7.4% of N2O on both sides, the process of feeding which accounted for 10% on both sides, and others. GHG that was emitted from livestock is not only because the nature process of enteric fermentation itself, but the process of maintaining livestock itself also produce a lot of GHG emissions. Third, keep in mind that livestock sector also include poultry (chickens, ducks), sheep and goats not only cows or cattle. Sheep and goats representing about 6.5% and poultry about 8% of GHG emission from livestock sector.

Now, take a glance at beef and poultry consumption in Indonesia on chart below by Organization for economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (2015).

Indonesia is highlighted by red color. Beef consumption in Indonesia accounted for 1.9 kilograms/capita while worldwide consumption is 6.4 kilograms/capita. For poultry sector, Indonesia accounted for 6.6 kilograms/capita while the worldwide consumption is 13.5 kilograms/capita. Those numbers are quite small compared to another countries, but does not mean that as an Indonesia citizen we can relax and keep consuming beef and poultry. It is not simply that livestock production can be shut down only because the production emitted a great amount GHG emission. The simplest things that people can do in order to reducing livestock effect on climate change is to consume less of its products. Poultry products for Indonesian are they everyday meal, it is cheap, delicious and easy to get. While, beef and goat meat come after that. Livestock products are the main source of protein for most of people. So, if people decide to consume less of livestock products to contribute reducing climate change, people need to seek its substitute. Fishes can be the answer. With great amount of protein, and since Indonesia is an archipelago country, fishes can be a perfect substitute for poultry meat and beef. Let’s take a look at Indonesian fisheries condition, under the reign of Jokowi governance, Indonesian fisheries sector itself growing throughout 2015. Indonesia’s fishing industry increase 8.37% in the third quarter of 2015, capture fishery production also increased by 5.05% until the third quarter of 2015, and aquaculture production grew by 3.9% (Global Business Guide Indonesia, 2016). Government itself increased their support to this sector, they aware that as a maritime country with two-thirds of its territory consisting of sea, Indonesian fishery sector has been deserted in the past which resulting small contribution to Indonesia’s gross domestic product which accounted only 3.57% in 2014. In 2016, to improve this sector, government allocated 13.8 trillion rupiahs in the APBN for the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (Global Business Guide Indonesia, 2016). But there some constraints remain in Indonesian fisheries sector, for example, 95% of 2.2 million people engaged in the fisheries sector are traditional fishermen which is these fishermen are lack of capital and resources to explore huge potential of Indonesian aquatic resources, resulting in lower catch volumes (Global Business Guide Indonesia, 2016). Thus, by consuming more fish products, it can help Indonesia’s fishery sector grow bigger and help those traditional fishermen to gain more resources and capital while reducing the GHG emissions by consuming less beef and poultry products.

To conclude, livestock sector is responsible for 18% of the total release of GHG emissions worldwide. Cow or Cattle-breeding is the biggest contributor of GHG emissions from this sector, followed by poultry and other small ruminants such as sheep and goat. Enteric fermentation which emitted methane (CH4) is become the major factor for these GHG emissions followed by another factors such as fertilizer & crop residues, feeding process, and many more. In order to reduce the effect of climate change, consuming less dairy products become an option. In Indonesia, average consuming of beef and poultry products are smaller than most of other countries but does not mean that people in Indonesia cannot contribute to reducing climate change. An alternative or substitute products that are suitable to replace beef and poultry are fishes, since fish also contain protein as well as beef and poultry products. Recently fishery sector in Indonesia experiencing a growth. As a maritime country, the government under the reign of Jokowi has learned from the past and put more attention to the fishery sector. Therefore, by doing small things like consuming less beef and poultry then consuming more fishery products and buying it from the local markets, people in Indonesia can contribute to reduce the effect of GHG emission on climate change while enhancing its country’s economy, helping those traditional fishermen to gain more resources and capital. In result, fishery sector contribute more to the country’s gross domestic product.



World Watch. 2009. Livestock and Climate Change; what if the key actors in climate change are cows, pigs, and chickens? Available at: http://www.worldwatch.org/files/pdf/Livestock%20and%20Climate%20Change.pdf [Accessed on 22nd February 2017]

OECD-FAO. 2016. Agricultural Outlook. Available at: https://data.oecd.org/agroutput/meat-consumption.htm [Accessed on 22nd February 2017]

FAO. 2013. Tackling Climate through Livestock. Available at: http://www.fao.org/3/i3437e.pdf [Accessed on 22nd February 2017]

FAO. 2006. Livestock's Long Shadow; environmental issues and problems. Available at: ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/a0701e/a0701e.pdf [Accessed on 22nd February 2017]

Vrbicek, Andy. 2015. The World's Leading Driver of Climate Change: Animal Agriculture. Available at: http://www.new-harvest.org/the_world_s_leading_driver_of_climate_change_animal_agriculture [Accessed on 22nd February 2017]

Global Business Guide Indonesia. 2016. Indonesia's Fisheries Sector: Under a New Paradigm. Available at: http://www.gbgindonesia.com/en/agriculture/article/2016/indonesia_s_fisheries_sector_under_a_new_paradigm_11566.php [Accessed on 22nd February 2017]


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