Monthly Archives: March 2011

Impact of Australian dairy cows put into perspective

The Garnaut Climate Change Review (of the impacts of climate change on the Australian economy) was commissioned in 2007 and released 30 September 2008.

In November 2010, Professor Ross Garnaut was commissioned to provide an update to this review.

A series of eight papers is being released prior to presentation of the updated review by 31 May 2011. Update paper #4, “Transforming rural land use”, was released on 1st March 2011. From the summary of its key points, Australia’s land sectors will be greatly affected by climate change, and by its mitigation.

Emissions from the land sector account for 20 per cent of Australia’s total emissions, with enteric fermentation accounting for about half of this land sector component. In turn, for the total enteric emissions, beef cattle are the major contributor (80 per cent), followed by sheep and dairy cattle.

In contrast, one key mitigation process is biosequestration; a major opportunity for the land use sector, and offset schemes, and a carbon price, will provide incentives for an increase in biosequestration activities, albeit with regulatory safeguards eg to preserve biodiversity.

Moving toward comprehensive coverage of land sectors under a carbon pricing mechanism would yield economic and environmental benefits and the proposed Carbon Farming Initiative would break new ground in this regard for offset schemes, although modifications are proposed.