This is a copy of a 2020Australia thinggy that I put onto News.com. Preserved for posterity here.
The proportionate emissions from Australian industry must have a fair, proportionate response.
Few people seem to realise that 30% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the livestock industry. These are net emissions, even including the carbon storage that agriculture has by its nature. This is not vegetarianism hobby-horsing around (even though I have not eaten meat for 15 years now, with no ill-effects). This is a valid concern that our second-largest emission economic sector is being ignored from the total problem of emissions reduction. 55% comes from stationary power generation. 30% from livestock, 16% from transport, and then some others (waste mgt etc)
A summary of the CSIRO “Balancing Act” report that is the source of this information can be found here.
Half the livestock emissions are direct methane production (about 400 litres per day per cow) the other half comes from the livestock industry practice of broad scale clearing of 1000’s of hectares of land each year.
By simply changing diet and land practices, 30% of our emissions are gone. Easy. Conversion of land clearing practices to carbon sink activities (carbon offsets from tree planting and BioChar operations) would improve this ratio, and in fact provide carbon offsets that can be used domestically or traded internationally in the future. Certainly part of the estimated $20billion that will come from the sale of emissions permits would be well spent in assisting the conversion.
People are willing to reduce electricity consumption, people are willing to reduce fuel consumption. Why is reducing meat consumption somehow taboo? Is the livestock industry so important that in times of crisis, when emissions must be reduced, that to point it out is to evoke the reaction “oh, no, you can’t go there”
The simple economics of the problem must outweigh any argument that we can’t question the consumption of animals because we enjoy the taste, or texture, or we are too lazy to find alternatives. At $40.00 per tonne of CO2-e the livestock industry emissions cost is about $6 billion dollars. (current price is about 22 euro) ... and that is not including the cost of land clearing (double it again)
Maybe it is too politically incorrect to suggest that maybe not killing things we don’t need to is a good idea. How about it is cheaper as well as less emissions? Maybe that will work.
I whole heartedly agree in reducing coal emissions, increasing fuel efficiency, switching to renewable and low emissions technologies, but please, let’s not ignore the second largest emitting industry.
To do so means that the emission permits from any emissions trading scheme will have to be 30% larger for other industries to compensate.
I personally would not want an electricity bill or fuel bill that is higher than it needs to be so that I can subsidise such a wasteful, unnecessary industry.
*phew*… got a bit emotional there
Actually all I ask is that the true cost of agriculture emissions be placed into the proposed emissions trading scheme, instead of waiting too long, when it will be too late. The world has indulged our fussy eating habits long enough, and soon there will be no time left.