Federated Farmers Climate Change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says it’s impossible to get methane emissions from a cow down to zero:
“It’s a biological system, it’s not going to happen. I guess the key thing is we’ve got to remember the global context her and that New Zealand’s food producers here are one of the most efficient in the world at producing food for the least amount of carbon.”
Hoggard was responding to news the government is aiming to get New Zealand’s net carbon emissions down to zero by 2050.
That doesn’t mean animal emissions would have to get to zero. In theory it could be achieved by off-setting those emissions but David Farrar points out at Kiwiblog:
The reality is that achieving zero net emissions will be incredibly costly and painful. It will involve massive trade offs.
New Zealand’s emissions from farming are unusually high for the developed world because we produce so much food.
Most of that food is exported. Other countries will have much lower emissions from farm animals but they eat the food we produce and if we produce less of it other less efficient farmers will produce more.
Emissions here would reduce but global emissions would rise.
What those calling for a reduction in stock, especially cattle, also forget is that the food we produce and export is what largely pays for the goods and services which we need to retain first world status.
Cue, this cartoon by Tom Scott from 2008: