Modelling used to calculate the impact of beef on climate change questioned

By Rodney Woods

The Cattle Council of Australia is calling for a full scientific assessment of modelling used to calculate the impact of beef on climate change and the alternative GWP* (global warming potential star) model.

CCA president Tony Hegarty said with the broader red meat industry committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030, it was important to use the best available science to measure the impact of cattle-produced methane.

“We have a responsibility to make sure we use the best available science in our response to climate change,” Mr Hegarty said.

“We are asking the scientists, who have the expertise, to assess both models and tell us which is more accurate.

“Any scientific assessment undertaken by government should consider both models and we stand ready to take that scientific advice.

“The current GWP100 model pegs the impact of methane against carbon dioxide and averages it out over 100 years.

“It is well-established that carbon-dioxide emissions can stay in the atmosphere for thousands of years.

“By contrast, methane emissions are entirely depleted by year 12.”

Mr Hegarty said the alternative GWP* model measures the impact of current emissions and subtracts the impact of methane that has since broken down.

“Where the impact of cattle is concerned, GWP* could provide a more accurate approximation of the actual warming that would be created by methane over its lifetime,” he said.

“Carbon in methane is also sequestered from the atmosphere through pasture production in the first place.

“The grass-fed beef industry is committed to doing its fair share when it comes to addressing climate change.

“In managing more than 79 per cent of Australia's agricultural land, beef producers understand they will play a key role in the solutions to de-carbonise the economy, while feeding the nation and helping feed the world.

“It is only fair for our sector to ask if our carbon bill has been added up correctly.”