Australia joins global pledge to cut methane emissions

  • Market: Agriculture, Emissions, Natural gas
  • 10/24/22

The Australian government has signed the global methane pledge to cut its methane levels by 30pc by 2030 from 2020 levels, which will mean the country's significant agriculture and gas sectors will have to step up efforts to cut the potent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions gas.

The ruling Labor government indicated in June that the nation would join more than 120 countries on tackling methane. Methane has a greater global warming potential that is 86 times higher than CO2 when averaged over 20 years and 28 times higher when averaged over 100 years.

"By joining the pledge, Australia will join the rest of the world's major agricultural commodity exporters including the US, Brazil, and Indonesia in identifying opportunities to reduce emissions in this hard-to-abate sector," Australian climate change and energy minister Chris Bowen said.

The Australian government will partner with industry to decarbonise the economy and pursue emissions reduction initiatives across energy and waste sectors including capturing waste methane to generate electricity, Bowen said.

Australian government investment in lowering GHG emissions will include up to A$3bn ($1.91bn) from the A$15bn National Reconstruction Fund to support investment in low emissions technologies and component manufacturing and agricultural methane reduction, the minister said.

Canberra will provide a further A$5mn in funding for the second stage of the methane emissions reduction in livestock (Meril) programme to develop technologies to deliver low emission feed supplements to grazing animals and determine their technical viability and commercial potential, Bowen said.

The pledge does not require Australia to focus solely on agriculture, or reduce agricultural production or livestock numbers, the minister said. The former conservative coalition government would not sign the methane pledge when it was in government up until it lost the national election in May.

"As a result of signing the pledge, the Australian government will not legislate or introduce taxes or levies to reduce livestock emissions," Bowen said.

Around 26pc of Australia's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2021 were from methane emissions, according to the latest GHG inventory data. Agricultural GHG emissions represents about 13pc of Australia's total emissions, while 42pc of the sector's emissions are from methane.

Most of this is the methane produced by cattle and other livestock through the fermentation of plants in their stomachs. Australia's expansion of LNG exports over the past decade to around 80mn t/yr have also seen an increased contribution to GHGs coming from methane emissions in the upstream sector.

The Labor government has already deepened its GHG emissions reduction target to 43pc by 2030 from 2005 levels compared with the 26-28pc cut pledged by the previous administration.

"For agriculture the pledge will reinforce our demonstrated commitment to sustainability and ongoing access key markets as an export orientated sector," National Farmers Federation (NFF) president Fiona Simon said.


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