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A United Nations report identifies the world’s rapidly growing herds of cattle as the greatest threat to the climate.

The livestock industry massively impacts Green Houses Gases (GHG) which contributes to global warming, according to the UN FAO document ‘Livestock’s Long Shadow’.

Fact 1: 51% of all GHG come from the livestock sector.

Livestock activities emit considerable amounts of CO2, Methane and Nitrous Oxide gases. The industry produces these emissions via livestock CO2 respiration emissions, methane emissions and emissions from clearing land for agricultural purposes.

Fact 2: Methane is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Methane is particularly detrimental as it has a greater impact than CO2. Methane is responsible for nearly as much global warming as all other non-CO2 greenhouse gases put together.

Fact 3: While atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have risen by about 31% since pre-industrial times, methane concentrations have more than doubled. 

Senior UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) official Henning Steinfeld said: “(Methane produced by) Livestock is one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems.”

Ignoring Australia’s agricultural emissions exposes why the Carbon Tax is flawed.

The Carbon Tax underestimates the direct and indirect livestock emissions. Under the Carbon Tax, about 500 of Australia’s biggest carbon-emitting companies such as electricity wholesalers will have to pay for each tonne of carbon they release. Despite the livestock industry being the number one source of methane worldwide, agricultural emissions have been excluded from the Federal Government’s carbon pricing scheme. Farmers will be exempt from a carbon price on fuel, instead will be compensated for planting trees and investing in new technologies.

Omitting the livestock industries’ contribution to climate change and ignoring the fact that they are a “heavy industry” exposes a gaping flaw in the Carbon Tax. In light of this report claiming livestock emissions account for 51% of GHG, it is clear the government needs to address farming in its efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions.

The video below documents the animal agriculture’s impact on climate change: