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The Uncertain Costs of Carbon Reduction

02 April 2009

QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA - The cost of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme to producers is the national beef industry’s number one concern, but vital research into the impact of CPRS is being hampered by laboratory closures.

AgForce Cattle spokesperson Howard Smith, who chairs Cattle Council of Australia’s environmental taskforce, welcomed a commitment from CSIRO to undertake research in-line with industry’s requirements in the lead-up to the 2013 decision about the inclusion of agriculture in the CPRS. However, he said the planned closure of CSIRO’s JM Rendel Laboratory in Rockhampton next year, where lab-based components of research into livestock emissions will be undertaken, could jeopardise the completion of this vital research.

“AgForce is concerned about the direct and indirect costs facing beef businesses operating in a carbon constrained economy, and the long-term uncertainty which the industry is already facing will be worse unless this important research is completed,” Mr Smith said.

“A climate change policy that sustains a profitable beef sector requires R&D into the accurate measurement, verification and mitigation of methane emissions; and a carbon trading environment that sustains international competitiveness.

“Finding a way to boost carbon storage in Australia’s vast pastures and farming land could significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and it is a push supported by producers and industry groups because of the potential benefits.”

CSIRO, through its Livestock Industries division and Agricultural Sustainability Initiative, will undertake three research projects aimed at reducing livestock emissions and boosting carbon storage through $32 million allocated by the Federal Government.

“These projects have been described by Federal Minister for Agriculture, Tony Burke, as Australia’s most comprehensive research effort into soil carbon and emissions,” Mr Smith said.

“Research into livestock methane emissions will be invaluable to producers wishing to reduce their carbon footprint increase, and will provide inputs for the modelling framework we are currently developing in support of National Carbon Accounting Scheme (NCAS).

“But on the one hand the Federal Government acknowledges the importance of the work needed to be completed before 2013, yet on the other hand they, through CSIRO, are shutting down facilities meaning we don’t have any place available for the research to be completed.”

Mr Smith said the closure of the Rendel facility in 2010 would be felt across the beef industry, as it has been the site of important productivity work and nationally focussed research on production and welfare factors associated with intensive livestock production and live export.

“If community expectations on these types of cattle industries are to be met then further research, not less, will be required in the future.”

TheCattleSite News Desk


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