The rain that breaks the drought probably causes an increase in greenhouse gas emissions

Rains and thunderstorms for next week are expected to produce falls of 20 to 40 millimeters in the eastern half of New South Wales, with a much stronger chance of falls in some areas. However, more will be needed for significant and widespread growth of pastures.

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“A break in the drought could boost our emissions, so they are increasing again,” said Professor of the Institute for Climate Change at the National University of Australia, Mark Howden.

Australia’s national emissions reached a minimum of 528 million tons in 2016 and have remained between 533 and 532 million tons since 2017.

Professor Howden said that while Australia’s emissions were “almost flat,” when the drought finally broke down, livestock emissions would likely increase by 4 million tons per year.

“Farmers will build their breeding herd as quickly as possible and this will result in a rapid increase in registered greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

“During the drought, animal feed intake is likely to have decreased and that further reduces emissions. When it breaks, cattle can eat much more and increase emissions.”

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The Minister of Energy and Emission Reduction, Angus Taylor, said the growth of greenhouse gases on farms would not force Australia to break its commitment to Paris.

In December, Taylor announced new projections that show for the first time that Australia is on track to meet its emission reduction targets under the Paris climate agreement.

“The latest emission projections assume that there will be growth in the agricultural sector and an increase in livestock emissions, and they also show that we will meet our goal by 2030,” Taylor said.

“But we are not going to force the agricultural industry to reduce the amount of livestock simply to reduce emissions; many farmers are already making it difficult with drought conditions and forest fires.”

Under current trends, Australia will need the Kyoto transfer credits, which Australia obtained through an excess of prior international commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, to meet Paris’ commitment to reduce emissions at 2005 levels in 26 to 28 percent by 2030.

Farmers for Climate Action spokeswoman Verity Morgan-Schmidt said agricultural industry groups promoted the adoption of low-emission technology and techniques on the farm, but the government’s policy to encourage adoption was “sadly inadequate in this moment”.

“There are some positive signs, such as the fact that the Council of Agriculture Ministers has supported the national work program on climate change and agriculture, but now we need to see financing and implementation,” said Morgan-Schmidt.

Taylor said the government’s Emission Reduction Fund had secured 18 million tons of carbon reduction and that “very promising” research sought to reduce methane emissions from livestock.

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African swine fever has eliminated 40 percent of China’s swine herd and the country has an insatiable hunger for protein, and Australian beef imports increased 84 percent in 2019.

The senior animal protein analyst at Rabobank, Angus Gidley-Baird, said livestock markets were strong due to domestic and export demand, and that the rain would see strong competition among buyers looking to fatten stocks in new pastures. .

“Any cattle that can be finished [fattened] they are selling well, “said Gidley-Baird.

“We would see an immediate impact if there was widespread rain. Prices would rise even more.”

Mike is the weather and energy correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

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