The livestock industry produces nearly about 1.6-2.7 billion tonnes of methane and adds it to the atmosphere (www.dairyingfortomorrow.com.au, 2018). The 1.3-2.0 billion tonnes of nitrous oxide is also produced from the activities in the livestock industry (www.dairyingfortomorrow.com.au, 2018). Additionally, the 1.6 billion tonnes of green house gases are produced due to use of land as well as also because of clearing of the animal pastures (www.dairyingfortomorrow.com.au, 2018).
The emission from the livestock production does not remain same across the globe. Emissions from the livestock industry of the developing countries constitute for the 70% emissions of the global green house gases (Beavan, 2017). The developing countries use large number of animals for the production of eggs, milk and meat.
Intensity of the emissions from the global livestock industry also does not remain constant all over the world. In case of the emission intensity, the developed countries perform better than the developed nations (Herrero, 2016). In other words, in the developed countries, the livestock producers use better feeds and employ better management practices. As a result, the livestock producers of the developed countries produce fewer amounts of the green house gases for producing one kilogram of protein. On the contrary, the livestock producers of the developing countries produce larger amount of green house gases to produce the meat.
The amount of emission from the livestock industry also differs on basis of the type of products (Herrero et al.2016). The largest amount of green house gases is generated from the production of red meats. The milk production results in the next largest amount of green house gases. The poultry and pork production results in production of the significant amount of green house gases.
In Australia, the agricultural sector is responsible for the 16% of the greenhouse emission. The livestock industry is one of the most prominent parts of the agricultural sector. The emissions from the livestock industry constitute for the 71% of the total methane emissions as well as nitrous oxide (www.dairyingfortomorrow.com.au, 2018). The total emissions from the livestock industry account for the 11% of the national emissions in Australia (www.dairyingfortomorrow.com.au, 2018).
The fermentation works used in the livestock industry, mature management works, cultivation of rice leads to generation of the gases like methane and nitrous oxide. In the year 2017, the agricultural sector accounted for about 14% of the total national inventory of Australia (www.environment.gov.au, 2018). It can be stated that the agricultural sector is one of the major source of the methane and nitrous oxide emissions in Australia. In addition, the sector also contributes huge amount of carbon dioxide , urea and lime to the environment. Being one of the most dominant parts of the agricultural industry, the livestock sector also accounts for a major portion of the green house gases in the country.
The emission from the agricultural industry in Australia is increasing over time. In 2017, the emission due to agricultural and the livestock industry increased by 2.5% in March in comparison to the emission in past 12 months (www.environment.gov.au, 2018). Analysis on the activities of this industry indicates that the emission is increasing due to the fermentation related works. Soil preparation is another activity that caused huge amount of green house gases and contribute to the environment. Both the soil preparation related activities and the fermentation works are done primarily for increasing the beef cattle population. It can be stated that the emission of green house gases is increasing due to the growth of livestock industry. Not only directly , the livestock industry adds the gases to the environment in several indirect methods also.
Figure 1: Theory of externalities in Livestock industry
(Source: Stiglitz and Rosengard,2015,p-79)
The above figure indicates the impact of green house gas generation by the livestock industry using the theory of externalities. The theory of externalities indicate that the externalities cost can be either positive or negative. The negative externalities cost is resulted in when production of a firm affects well being of the others, who are not related to the firm. The externalities cost can be created either at supply or demand side. The negative production externality indicates that the production activities of a particular firm are affecting the well being of others. On the contrary , the negative supply externalities indicates that well being of the individuals are affected due to the consumption of the particular product.
In case of livestock industry production activities are creating huge amount of green house gases. Addition of such gases are degrading the environment and affecting others who are not related to the industry anyway. Although the livestock industry account for a significant portion of the global and Australian economy , the environmental degradation is affecting the financial benefit obtained from the sector. In order to manage the environmental damages caused by this industry, the governments are requiring to invest more on the pollution control activities. It indicates that the society is in need of bearing extra financial burden to control the environmental damages caused by the livestock industry.
For controlling the emissions from live stock industry , the government can take several steps. The taxation policy of the Australian government can be considered as one such step to control the livestock production (Ato.gov.au, 2018). In Australia, the citizens need to evaluate the livestock as their asset and pay taxes for them. The earning obtained from the livestock are also need to be evaluated and it falls under the taxable income category. It means that the farmers and the livestock producers need to pay more on increased production of such products It can encourage them to control the production of red meat and similar product which generate significant amount of green house gases. Use of technology plays a crucial role to control the emission. In case of livestock industry also, the producers need to be encouraged to employ the advanced technology which can keep the production of green house gases lower.
Increasing popularity of the meat substitutes is another factor that can control the environmental damages caused by livestock industry. The Australians are now showing more preference to the substitutes of the meat and other related products in their diet. The products are quorn substitutes, mince, cottage pie and fish products are being more popular among the people. It is also able to reduce the demand and production of the meat products, especially demand of red meat.
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