Emissions from cattle lower than thought

Methane emissions from cattle in Australia are 24% lower than previously estimates, new research suggests.

An update of the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory (NGGI) says that the emissions are equivalent to 12.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a yea.

The research was based on data collected over eight years into ways to reduce methane emissions in Australian livestock as part of Meat and Livestock Australia’s (MLA) methane abatement research programs.

CSIRO’s Ed Charmley said the work was conducted because of concerns about the large differential between NGGI and IPCC methane emission figures for Australian cattle, and doubt surrounding the accuracy of previous calculation methodologies used for cattle, particularly northern Australian cattle.

“Different methods used to calculate emissions from livestock in temperate and tropical regions were based on studies done in the 1960s and 1990s, mainly with dairy cattle,” said Dr Ed Charmley of Australia’s peak government research agency the CSIRO.

“Both of these past methods were found to be likely over-estimating the emissions from cattle.

“The revised method, which is based on improved ways of estimating ruminant methane emissions from forage-fed beef and dairy cattle, be they in temperate or tropical regions, has been tested against international defaults provided by the IPCC and found to give consistent methane yields.”

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