The impact of human and livestock respiration on CO2 emissions from 14 global cities

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Springer Nature
Background: The CO2 released by humans and livestock through digestion and decomposition is an important part of the urban carbon cycle, but is rarely considered in studies of city carbon budgets since its annual magnitude is usually much lower than that of fossil fuel emissions within the boundaries of cities. However, human and livestock respiration may be substantial compared to fossil fuel emissions in areas with high population density such as Manhattan or Beijing. High-resolution datasets of CO2 released from respiration also have rarely been reported on a global scale or in cities globally. Here, we estimate the CO2 released by human and livestock respiration at global and city scales and then compare it with the carbon emissions inventory from fossil fuels in 14 cities worldwide. Results: The results show that the total magnitude of human and livestock respiration emissions is 38.2% of the fossil fuel emissions in Sao Paulo, highest amongst the 14 cities considered here. The proportion is larger than 10% in cities of Delhi, Cape Town and Tokyo. In other cities, it is relatively small with a proportion around 5%. In addition, almost 90% of respiratory carbon comes from urban areas in most of the cities, while up to one-third comes from suburban areas in Beijing on account of the siginificant livestock production. Conclusion: The results suggest that the respiration of human and livestock represents a significant CO2 source in some cities and is nonnegligible for city carbon budget analysis and carbon monitoring.
© The Author(s) 2022. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data. The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Carbon Balance and Managment, 2022, available online at: . Keywords: Human respiration; Livestock respiration; City CO2 emission; Urban metabolism.
Cai, Q., Zeng, N., Zhao, F. et al. The impact of human and livestock respiration on CO2 emissions from 14 global cities. Carbon Balance Manage 17, 17 (2022).