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You’ve heard of the carbon footprint. Now there is a development on carbon hoof print.
New Zealand has announced a plan to tax cattle burps in a bid to reduce the country’s gas emissions.
Methane emissions from animals are a well-known problem. Cows alone are responsible for around 40% of these planet-warming gases around the world, mostly through their burps.
UC Davis scientist Ermias Kebreab is something of a cow whisperer who has spent two decades studying the greenhouse gas contributions of hoofed animals.
“If you tell me how much your pet consumes, I can tell you the actual emissions quite accurately using mathematical models,” he said.
“Most of the gas forms in their stomach, so in their guts, especially in the first chamber. And so they spit it out.”
He and other scientists have developed special diets and genetic predictions that could help reduce the methane formed in the stomachs of cows.
Now New Zealand could become the first country to tax its “four-legged” way of reducing emissions.
There are seven times as many cows and sheep as people in New Zealand. And on Wednesday, the country’s government released a draft plan for farmers to pay for their animals’ emissions, starting in 2025.
The recommendations stem from He Waka Eke Noa – a collaboration between government and the primary sector.
The group recommended the government “introduce a separate farm-level gas tax on agricultural emissions with built-in incentives to reduce emissions and sequester carbon.”
Past moves to tax farmers have met with strong resistance, but New Zealand’s climate change minister James Shaw thinks it’s a good start.
“There’s no doubt that we need to reduce the amount of methane we put into the atmosphere, and an effective emissions pricing system for agriculture will play a key role in how we get there,” Shaw said. .
And Kebreab told the TED Radio Hour last month that tackling livestock emissions could be a game-changer for slowing climate change.
“The reason we want to push for methane reduction now is because we’re still seeing the results quite quickly – within the next 10 years or so,” he said.
A final decision on New Zealand’s plan is expected by the end of the year.