Potential for carbon offsets from anaerobic digesters in livestock production

Kathy Baylis, Nicholas D. Paulson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Methane from livestock manure accounts for ∼6.6% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States, and 1.1% of total emissions in Canada. Methane is 25 times more potent than CO2 as a GHG and is emitted into the atmosphere from enteric emissions and manure. Livestock operators can reduce CH4 emissions and may qualify for credits for its capture by utilizing manure management practices such as anaerobic digesters. Thus, livestock producers can play a role in reducing GHG emissions while also earning C offset credits. This paper has two related objectives. First, using data from Canada, we explore the economics of adoption of anaerobic digesters for Canadian dairy and hog producers. Second, using this example, we explore the institutional framework in place for livestock based GHG emissions and the sources of uncertainties facing both producers and consumers with regard to C offsets. From these two objectives we hope to better understand the potential gains for livestock producers, and consumers of CH4 based offsets, and identify potential institutional innovations needed to allow the offset market to function efficiently.This paper is part of the special issue entitled: Greenhouse Gases in Animal Agriculture - Finding a Balance between Food and Emissions, Guest Edited by T.A. McAllister, Section Guest Editors; K.A. Beauchemin, X. Hao, S. McGinn and Editor for Animal Feed Science and Technology, P.H. Robinson.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)446-456
Number of pages11
JournalAnimal Feed Science and Technology
StatePublished - Jun 23 2011


  • Anaerobic digesters
  • Animal agriculture
  • Carbon markets
  • Climate change
  • Greenhouse gases
  • Methane emissions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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