Napier Courier

NZ beef and lamb producers most efficient in world


New research has confirmed the carbon footprint of NZ beef and lamb is amongst the lowest in the world.

The comprehens­ive study by AgResearch has found that a kilo of NewZealand sheepmeat has a carbon footprint of just under 15 kilograms (kg) of CO2 equivalent emissions per kilo.

Meanwhile, the carbon footprint of New Zealand beef is just under 22kg — making the country’s red meat among the most efficient in the world.

The researcher­s, who compared NZ on-farm emissions to a range of countries’ footprints across the globe, concluded that when New Zealand beef or sheepmeat is exported, the total carbon footprint is lower or very similar to domestical­ly-produced red meat in those nations.

This is because New Zealand is so efficient at the farm level, which represents about 90-95 per cent of the total carbon footprint. New Zealand’s on-farm footprint was about half the average of the other countries compared in the study.

Based on the research, an analysis by B+LNZ and MIA shows eating red meat 2-3 times aweek over the course of an entire year is just under the carbon footprint of a single passenger’s return flight from Auckland to Christchur­ch.

The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study was commission­ed by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Associatio­n of New Zealand (MIA). As the world’s second biggest exporter of lamb and one of the largest beef exporters, sustainabl­e farming is a critical part of the country’s red meat sector strategy.

The LCA was calculated using the standard GWP100 approach for converting methane to carbon dioxide equivalent to enable valid internatio­nal comparison­s.

AgResearch scientists also measured the carbon footprint of New Zealand beef and sheepmeat using an emerging approach known as GWP, which determines a carbon footprint based on a product’s actual contributi­on to the warming of the planet over a period of time rather than total emissions.

The Intergover­nmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that the traditiona­l GWP100 method overstates the impact of methane when this gas is not increasing, as is the case in New Zealand.

The calculatio­n using GWP for the period 1998 to 2018 showed that when taking into account sequestrat­ion — trees and other vegetation on farms absorbing emissions — New Zealand’s sheepmeat is arguably “climate neutral” and New Zealand beef is also well on the way towards that.

That means over the last 20 years, New Zealand sheepmeat has not added any additional warming. Absolute greenhouse emissions from New Zealand sheep and beef farming have decreased by 30 per cent since 1990.

 ?? Photo / Bevan Conley ?? A study by AgResearch has found New Zealand sheepmeat production to be carbon neutral.
Photo / Bevan Conley A study by AgResearch has found New Zealand sheepmeat production to be carbon neutral.

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