Farm­ers need facts on beef, cli­mate change

Countryman - - OPINION HAVE YOUR SAY -

Most red meat pro­duc­ers will be sur­prised to hear that they have been com­mit­ted to be­ing “car­bon neu­tral” by 2030.

They were not asked, but the Na­tional Farm­ers Fed­er­a­tion agreed to it in the re­cently re­leased Road Map for In­dus­try Growth. It is also the pol­icy of the MLA and the Cat­tle Coun­cil.

All groups have ac­cepted that Aus­tralia must meet its in­ter­na­tional agree­ments on cli­mate change and fear not only global warm­ing, but trade bar­ri­ers, if we are not seen to be meet­ing our agree­ment to re­duce emis­sions by 26 per cent from the 2005 level.

Aus­tralia’s big three in­dus­tries, re­spon­si­ble for the most emis­sions of green­house gasses, are power gen­er­a­tion, trans­port and the live­stock in­dus­try.

When ru­mi­nants eat grass, meth­ane is ex­pelled.

In time it breaks down and be­comes part of the car­bon cy­cle. In green eco­nom­ics, meth­ane is given a debit 23 times that of car­bon diox­ide equiv­a­lent, with no credit for the grass that grows to re­place it.

This is the rea­son the green move­ment is en­cour­ag­ing the move to veg­e­tar­ian or “fake meat”.

Un­less the math­e­mat­ics change, the in­dus­try will never be car­bon neu­tral in the con­ver­sion of pas­ture to red meat.

This means that car­bon cred­its will have to be ob­tained, cur­rently val­ued about $15 per tonne, a fig­ure that the “Bulls” say will soon reach $40 per tonne.

The most ob­vi­ous source of these cred­its is forestry, re-veg­e­ta­tion and se­ques­ter­ing car­bon in the soil, but can the tar­get be met in the next 12 years?

Aus­tralia is a big ex­porter of beef but, com­pared with In­dia which has an es­ti­mated 305 mil­lion head and Brazil with 210 mil­lion, we are a very mi­nor play­ers with our 26 mil­lion.

I won­der what com­mit­ment to be­ing car­bon neu­tral they have made.

Aus­tralian farm­ers are en­ti­tled to know what in­dus­try lead­ers have agreed to in their name.

How many tonnes of car­bon cred­its are re­quired to be car­bon neu­tral by 2030? What will it cost and who will pay?

On ABC 7.30, on Novem­ber 27, for­mer prime min­is­ter John Howard, ex­pressed the view that he was an ag­nos­tic on man-made cli­mate change.

The Howard gov­ern­ment was the first to take ac­tion to counter cli­mate change, in­tro­duc­ing clear­ing re­stric­tions to meet the Ky­oto tar­gets. Has he changed his mind?

What a tragedy if we were to de­stroy Aus­tralia’s eco­nomic com­pet­i­tive­ness and the sun, not emis­sions was the cause of cli­mate change.

Only a royal com­mis­sion into the facts, not ide­ol­ogy, would con­vince Aus­tralians one way or the other. Mur­ray Nixon OAM, Gin­gin Pri­vate Prop­erty Group pres­i­dent, Wem­b­ley

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