Date of Graduation

Spring 5-15-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences


International Studies

First Advisor

Brian Dowd-Uribe

Second Advisor

Dana Zartner


This thesis analyzes the international discourse of greenhouse gas emissions in relation to livestock production. Specific government ministries, research institutes, and multilateral organizations are framing a new strategy to mitigate emissions by using emissions intensity metrics. Emissions intensity is a ratio comparing emissions produced per unit of animal product as oppose to measuring absolute emissions. This research is acknowledged as a win-win scenario which allows for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions while continuing production more efficiently. This thesis outlines the emergence of this metric in international discourse and the implications this shift has on the livestock sector globally. Ultimately, I argue that a focus on reducing emissions intensity in isolation from reduction in absolute emissions allows for the continued mass industrial production of livestock through a business-as-usual process. Improving efficiency produces cheap meat and drives up consumption overall increasing the overall production of livestock. The narrow scope of emissions intensity developed as an economic stance with political ambition, but branded as a mechanism to address climate change.