Meat & Livestock News

Rethinking Emission Targets for Cattle

TL;DR: Adam Coffey advocates reevaluating cattle’s emission targets, distinguishing them from fossil fuels and highlighting their carbon sequestration role, urging fair and modernised industry standards.

Adam Coffey, Cattle Australia’s deputy chair, recently highlighted the urgent need to update the emission targets for the Australian cattle industry. Speaking at the ICMJ Northern Conference in Rockhampton, he argued that cattle are mistakenly classified as fossil fuel emitters, ignoring their unique cyclical emission patterns.

Cattle Australia is developing a roadmap focusing on sustainability, including revised emission targets. “We aim for a fair assessment of our emissions,” Coffey stated, emphasising the need to differentiate cattle from one-way emitters like those from energy and transport sectors.

Independent scientists have pointed out the overestimation of methane’s warming potential from cattle by up to 400 percent, a significant oversight in current greenhouse gas accounting systems.

Coffey stressed the importance of reevaluating the industry’s emission targets. He noted the general willingness of other sectors and the government to overlook the cattle industry’s potential for carbon sequestration and to label it as a problem.

Several upcoming regulations and schemes could impact the industry significantly. The National Energy and Greenhouse Reporting Act will demand emission reports from large pastoral companies, and the Global Methane Pledge, which Australia has joined, sets a goal to cut methane emissions by 30 percent.

Moreover, there’s growing pressure for companies, including those within the beef supply chain, to disclose their Scope 3 emissions, encompassing all indirect emissions.

Coffey believes it’s time for the cattle industry to reevaluate its position and ensure it operates on a level playing field. He highlighted the industry’s significant role in carbon sequestration, arguing for its recognition as part of the solution to achieving net-zero targets.

“We’ve made considerable efforts towards sustainability,” Coffey concluded, signalling a cautious approach to setting new targets until the industry’s net impact is fully understood.