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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cattle Burping Can Lead to Global Warming

Global Warming Effects, Global Warming Causes, Define Global Warming, Effects of Global Warming, Global Warming Prevention,


That cattle herd sitting in the middle of the road, contently chewing away as you honk, is not just traffic nuisance. Research has revealed that cattle belching is speeding up global warming as well!

Methane, which ruminating animals like cattle and sheep emit during their digestive cycle when they belch, and nitrous oxide (N2O) that is emitted from its manure, has 21 times and 310 times respectively greater potential of causing global warming than the carbon dioxide being emitted from your vehicle’s exhaust pipe.

According to a study by IIM-A, India’s livestock releases twice as much greenhouse gas than all vehicles in the country together. Last year, Gujarat had emitted 1.34 million tonnes of methane and 0.025 million tonnes of N2O into the atmosphere.

Sixty percent of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) emissions from Banaskantha, Sabarkantha and nearly half of Mehsana, Anand and Patan districts are in the form of methane primarily emanating from livestock. Methane also dominates emissions from Panchmahals, Dahod and Narmada.

Most of these districts due to predominant agrarian economic activities also have between 10 and 20 per cent emissions in the form of N2O from use of nitrogenous fertilizer. Typically a single cattle, cow or buffalo emits 0.70 ton CO2e methane emissions each year.

Currently, India has no binding emission reduction commitment under the Kyoto protocol. But in the long run GHG emissions will attract penalty everywhere. If that were the case today then going by the price of 25 Euros per ton of CO2 in the European Union Emission Trading System (EUETS), annual emission of each cow would cost Rs 1,100.

As per the life cycle cost, this emission charge would make a litre of cow milk more expensive by Rs 3.64 and buffalo milk by Rs 2.51. The consumers in developed countries who have ratified the Kyoto Protocol are paying this additional cost of emissions in animal products.

Livestock owners may not be penalised at present but they can get credit under the clean development mechanism (CDM) if they reduce these emissions. This can be profitable for the organised dairy sector.

Gujarat, with its 22 million livestock and substantial dairy industry, can take benefit of the emerging carbon finance instruments like CDM. Income from the CDM project can generate additional income for farmers as well and can reduce the price of animal products such as milk.

Globally livestock producers deploy different approaches to reduce emissions from livestock. Methane emissions per animal product are reduced by feeding concentrates instead of forage.

There are a range of dietary additives which reduce ‘methanogenesis’, production of methane in digestion. In the long run, emissions per animal product are reduced by breeding. Such technological and management innovations are feasible to qualify for emission reduction permitted under CDM.

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