Do cattle emit more GHG than they currently sequester?
Under a stable livestock population within the red meat agricultural sector, there is no additional impact on temperature as emissions would not increase.
Under the Australian red meat industry’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2030 (CN30), carbon neutral means net zero GHG emissions on an annual basis. This means that the amount of GHGs released to the atmosphere by industry is equivalent or less than the amount of additional carbon stored in soils or vegetation in grazing lands in a given reporting year. The sources and sinks of emissions under the CN30 initiative are illustrated below.
According to CSIRO, it is possible to achieve CN30 without reducing livestock numbers below the rolling 10‑year average to 2015 (25 million cattle, 70 million sheep and 0.5 million goats).
The red meat industry is working to reduce emissions through initiatives such as production efficiencies, dietary improvements, renewable energy sources and increase CO2 stored on farm in the soil and in trees and shrubs.