Australia’s New Carbon Neutral Target

Samantha Zeitz

The meat and dairy industries are major contributors to climate change but Australia is trying to help people enjoy steak with less guilt about harming the environment.

Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) is working on a project that will help the red meat industry become carbon neutral. They hope to achieve their carbon neutral target by 2030. To get there, they will be looking at the Australian Department of the Environment and Energy to establish contributions from the beef, sheep grazing, feedlot and processing sectors to overhaul industry greenhouse gas emissions. From there, the focus will be on finding ways to reduce greenhouse gases from animals and processing, as well as looking at carbon capture from trees and soil. Along the way, they will be closely measuring impacts.

According to ABC Rural News, offsetting emissions with carbon farming, genetic selection and a potential vaccine that could reduce methane gas production are all possible strategies that the MLA has been discussing. The idea of expanding the use of legumes and/or dung beetles in pastures is another approach that could be considered to offset emissions. As synthetic meat production gains momentum, the MLA suggests this is the time to become carbon neutral. Synthetic meat production is meat grown via cell in a laboratory. It is often marketed as more environmentally friendly, but representatives from the MLA say that they want consumers to know that there can be a naturally grown product that is healthy for them and healthy for the planet developed through initiatives that focus on lowering greenhouse gases.

While they are looking at which initiatives would be more successful; they must also taken into account the associated financial returns related to productivity, as well as potential carbon credits.

Managing director of MLA Richard Norton says that their goal could mean increased productivity in the red meat industry, additional farm income from carbon mitigation projects, contributing to the government’s targets on emissions reduction, and reinforcing the image of Australian red meat. Australia could become the first red meat exporting nation to reach such a goal.

Emissions from the livestock industry are responsible for 14.5 per cent of global emissions. Recent studies show that to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius something must change in the global meat and dairy industries.