Developing low-cost strategies to reduce enteric methane emissions in Uruguay

Uruguay is a small country with a population of 3.5 million, but the meat it produces feeds approximately 30 million people. Agriculture is a key part of Uruguay’s economy, representing 70% of all its exports. However, the agriculture sector is responsible for 80% of Uruguay’s greenhouse gas emissions, half of which comes from enteric fermentation.

The country has turned this challenge into a key opportunity for climate action with a strategy to reduce emissions intensity by improving the efficiency and productivity of beef cattle. Since 65% Uruguay is covered by natural grass and pastureland, this strategy also aims to complement livestock emission reductions by sequestering carbon in soils and biomass.

Uruguay is working with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to reduce methane from enteric fermentation and improve food security and livelihoods. This work has provided Uruguay with tools to increase national capacity in order to improve productivity by 30% to 35% while reducing emissions and achieving sustainable production.


Our Agriculture Initiative is working to transform ruminant livestock production systems to improve productivity and reduce enteric methane emissions per unit of animal product. 

This project seeks to provide guidance to policy makers, and recommend incentives and institutional frameworks to encourage the adoption of productivity-enhancing technologies and practices. 

Why we're doing this work

Enteric methane emissions from ruminant animals raised for meat and milk account for as much as 30% of global anthropogenic methane emissions. Factors such as feed quality, animal size, and environmental temperature can increase the amount of methane an animal produces.

What we're doing

Since 2016, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC), has helped Uruguay: 

  • Identify and prioritize low cost strategies to reduce enteric  methane  emission  intensity  from  ruminant  systems using the Global Livestock Environmental Assessment Model (GLEAM). The tool helped evaluate a broad perspective of opportunities and potential productivity gains and emissions intensity reductions for the beef sector. 
  • Improve its emissions inventory by better defining emissions intensity reduction targets, and increase understanding of measures to improve productivity, production system efficiency and reproduction systems. 
  • Increase on-farm monitoring of improved practices as part of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and FAO project Climate-smart Livestock Production and Land Restoration in the Uruguayan Rangelands, to generate improved methane emission factors for Uruguay´s national monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV).

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