12-13 August 2019, Canberra
Senior Research Scientist
CSIRO and member of RAID Network
Di Mayberry is a senior research scientist with CSIRO Agriculture and Food, founding member and former Vice-President of the RAID network, and a former Crawford Fund conference scholar. Di combines her background in ruminant (sheep and cattle) nutrition with systems modelling approaches to improve the long-term viability of livestock production systems in Australia and developing countries. This includes the use of science to better understand and reduce the impacts of animal agriculture on the environment. Her research portfolio encompasses work at the animal, farm/household and regional scales, and she has worked on sheep, beef and dairy production systems in Australia, Indonesia, China, Myanmar, India and Tanzania.
The red meat sector makes an important contribution to Australia’s economy, but is also a contributor to national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In 2005 (the baseline year for the Paris Agreement), emissions from the Australian red meat industry were 129.3 Mt CO2e; 21% of national emissions. The main sources of emissions were CO2 from forest land converted to grassland, and enteric methane from grazing beef cattle. Between 2005 and 2016, emissions attributed to the red meat sector decreased by 58% to 54.8 Mt CO2e and 10% of national emissions. This large reduction was primarily due to decreased land clearing for grazing, but there has also been a modest increase in the efficiency of red meat production.
Further reductions in GHG emissions from the red meat industry are possible through continued improvements in land management and new options to reduce methane emissions from ruminant livestock. As the custodians of almost half of Australian land, there are also opportunities for grazing livestock industries to be leaders in carbon sequestration. While possible, mitigation and sequestration activities come at a cost, and require investment and policy support from private and government bodies. This needs to be supported by a willingness of consumers, both in Australia and export markets, to pay a higher price for low-carbon products.
This case study will provide an update to our 2019 paper on carbon neutral pathways, and highlight some of the lessons from Australia that can be applied to developing countries.
Mayberry D, Bartlett H, Moss J, Davison T, Herrero M (2019) Pathways to carbon-neutrality for the Australian red meat sector. Agricultural Systems 175, 13-21.