Written by on May 3, 2023

A twitter post claiming that methane produced by cows doesn’t cause global warming is false.

“Yes, the little amount of methane cows produce isn’t going to cause global warming,” states the claim.

According to the University of California Davis (UC Davis), each cow produces almost 220 pounds of methane annually. Methane on its own has 80 times the short-term warming potential of carbon dioxide, and this makes it the most potent greenhouse gas.

More than 95% of the methane emissions associated with enteric fermentation come from cattle farms.  Methane has a short life of 12 years in comparison with the hundreds/thousand years that CO2 stays in the atmosphere. 80-90% of the methane is thereafter the 12 years removed through oxidation with a process referred to as hydroxyl oxidation. The short life span is relevant to global warming since as it is being emitted, it is as well destroyed in the atmosphere, thereby making it a flow gas.

According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), cattle are responsible for almost 10% of greenhouse gasses generated across the world by human activities. According to a report published in 2021, a considerable shift towards the 1.5 degrees Celsius warming pathway would be enabled if the largest methane producers cut their annual worldwide methane emissions by 20% by 2030 and 46% by 2050.

A report produced by the United Nations and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, found that 42% of human-caused methane emissions come from agriculture, more specifically burping livestock, its manure and paddy fields. Intentional and unintentional leaks of methane from fossil fuel drilling sites, coal mines and pipelines produce 36% of the total and waste dumps cause another 18%.


An experiment done in 2018 shows that adding seaweed to a cow’s diet can reduce their methane production by as much as half. However, one problem that the researchers realized is that cows tend not to like the salty taste of the seaweed very much.

A different study published in 2019 indicated that the type and number of methane-producing bacteria found in a cow’s stomach is related to its genetic makeup. With this in mind, the researchers indicate that scientists can breed cows that have less of these bacteria in their stomach. This will in turn create a particular type of genetically modified cow that produces less methane.  

We looked into this claim stating that methane produced by cows doesn’t cause global warming and found it to be false.

This fact-check was produced by Sky 106.1 FM with support from Code for Africa’s PesaCheck, International Fact-Checking Network, and African Fact Checking Alliance network.

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