TOPIC 3: Population, sustainability, climate change and water
30% of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions come from the livestock component of the agriculture sector. As an organisation whose members believe in the philosophy of 'no killing' it is our duty to point out that in order to make effective changes to emissions the livestock sector must be stated as a legitimate sector for reduction. We note that the government information campaigns and the activities of government, companies and individuals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions already incorporate the well-known strategies of:
· Reducing energy use;
· Utilising renewable sources of energy;
· Reducing fuel use;
· Introducing a broad-based carbon trading and emission scheme to help price and regulate the unwanted production of greenhouse gases.
The key recommendations that we submit are for the performing of the following additional actions:
· The government must inform the public of the fact that the Australian consumer can take immediate action on climate change by reducing or eliminating livestock based products from their purchases;
· The government must include this fact in any information briefings on what strategies, actions or activities the general public can perform to reduce climate change, as well as being frugal, using public transport, and using renewable energy;
· There must not be a delay the inclusion of the agriculture sector from any carbon trading scheme that is introduced, for to do so would remove the quickest, simplest and most effective short-term action to reduce climate change;
· The government must assist the livestock components of the agricultural sector in their transition to either vegetable-based production farming, or in the conversion of pasture to forestry and carbon sinks, which will provide an economic benefit as a source of carbon offsets;
Assistance currently given to the livestock industry can either be transferred as assistance to change their land use, or to increase assistance to the vegetable protein based industries for manufacture and sale to domestic and international markets.
The promotion of a non-meat based diet would have the added benefits of reducing health problems, reducing land degradation, and reducing aggression. The other part of this vision for 2020 is that Australian's can be more compassionate to other people as well as animals by being aware of the consequences of the choices they make in their purchases, and what it cost. In the livestock case, it costs lives. We would prefer that Australians would consider animal life to be important, instead of just a consumable.
Livestock also consumes a disproportionate amount of water for such a dry country as this. On an ABC science program it stated that 16,000 litres of water to make one steak. We cannot afford the luxury of ignoring the full cost of our consumables like food, especially in a world that is going to get drier and more hungry.
TOPIC 4: Future directions for rural industries and rural communities
Due to predicted water and therefore food shortages, it is preferable that land use be as efficient as possible for the production of the largest quantity of food.
Meat and livestock production is a very inefficient way to produce protein, as it takes approximately 6 times as much vegetable protein to make the equivalent of meat protein. Meat and livestock also consume a considerably larger quantity of water than crop lands, which in a dry (and becoming drier) land such as this, it does not make sense to put so much strain on our depleted resources for such an optional product. Meat is not compulsory. Also, grazing lands can be converted to carbon sinks, and be profitable under the emissions trading scheme for offsetting emissions.
It would be preferable if grazing land were converted to other activities that can have a similar economic benefit without the excessive waste and cost. Reduction in meat production would require an increase in vegetable protein production (wheat gluten and soy bean), which requires less land clearing. Efficiency and the use of scarce resources can be brought about through the emissions trading scheme for greenhouse gases, where the true cost of livestock (30% of Australia's emissions) can be paid for. This would have to also include a social campaign, similar to reducing the consumption of harmful substances like alcohol and tobacco. It should be OK to say no to meat, and not feel un-Australian.
It is anticipated that there will be food shortages around the world due to climate change. By converting the less efficient meat production to vegetable production, there will be a larger quantity of food to go around the world.