Research by the CSIRO shows Australia’s sheep meat sector, despite having increased production over the past 30 years, is now ‘climate neutral’ making no additional contribution to global temperature increases.
The research used annual Australian greenhouse gas emission data from 1990 to 2017 to measure the ‘’radiative forcing’’ footprint of the Australian sheep meat industry.
Radiative forcing relates to the balance between incoming and outgoing radiation. GHG concentrations in the atmosphere can impact the earth’s energy balance and contribute to climate change.
The goal of limiting mean global temperature rise to 1.5 °C, described in the Paris Agreement, depends upon urgent action to stabilize radiative forcing (RF).
The research showed the radiative forcing footprint of Australia’s sheep meat sector has plateaued over the past 30 years and reached the point of a net zero increase in 2020, a status that could be described as “climate neutral”.
Stabilizing the climate will require strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net zero CO2 emissions. Limiting other greenhouse gases and air pollutants, especially methane, could have benefits both for health and the climate.
Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of the recent IPCC sixth assessment report
RF climate footprints offer a powerful integrating framework for climate action that leads to climate stabilization.
Carbon Neutral by 2030
The red meat industry recognises the need to demonstrated environmental stewardship and have set the ambitious target to be Carbon Neutral by 2030 (CN30).
This target means that by 2030, Australian beef, lamb and goat production, including lot feeding and meat processing, will make no net release of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the atmosphere.