Australia seeks to cut animal gas emissions
Australia has vowed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least five percent. -AFP
SYDNEY (AFP) - The Australian government has announced a multi-million dollar investment in research on reducing gas emissions from farm animals as part of the fight against global warming.
Methane gas from livestock flatulence accounts for about 12 percent of the country's annual greenhouse gas emissions, Agriculture Minister Tony Burke said as he launched the A$26.8 million ($26.78 million) project.
The emissions from 120 million sheep, cows and goats comprise the country's third-largest source of gases blamed for climate change, he said in a statement received Thursday.
A beef cow expells the equivalent of around 1,500 kilograms (3,300 pounds) of carbon per year, the statement said.
Most carbon pollution is produced by the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal.
Researchers will explore changing diets and chemical and biological controls of stomach bacteria to reduce methane production, as well as genetic approaches such as selective breeding.
"We will invest in science to ensure that productivity grows while the industry adapts to lower emissions, particularly as the world food shortage continues," Burke said.
The government's top climate change advisor, Professor Ross Garnaut, suggested in a major report on global warming last year that one solution would be for Australians to eat more kangaroos and reduce the number of farm animals.
Kangaroos, which emit negligible amounts of dangerous methane gas, had been the main source of meat for most of Australia's human history -- around 60,000 years -- and could become important once more, he said.
Australia has vowed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least five percent from 2000 levels by 2020 to help fight climate change, including the introduction by 2010 of a carbon trading scheme.
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