Australia has signed a global pledge to cut methane emissions by 30% over the next decade.
In signing the U.S.-led Global Methane Pledge, the federal government joined 122 countries that had already adopted the non-binding pledge.
The United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union were already signatories.
It is hoped that the agreement will lead to a reduction in the amount of potent greenhouse gases created in several industries.
Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen said the government would look for opportunities to reduce emissions from agriculture, with livestock being key contributors to methane, and in the energy and waste sectors.
“By joining the pledge, Australia will join the rest of the world’s leading agricultural exporters, including the United States, Brazil and Indonesia, in identifying opportunities to reduce emissions in this hard-to-reduce sector.” , Mr. Bowen said.
So far, the government has committed funds from the National Reconstruction Fund to reduce methane in agriculture and has invested $8 million in commercializing the seaweed industry which, when used to feed the livestock, reduce the emissions they produce.
The second stage of the program to reduce methane emissions in livestock will also inject $5 million in new technologies to reduce emissions in the sector.
Nationals have previously raised concerns about the pledge, fearing it could drive up meat prices.
But Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said red meat producers have already risen to the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“Red meat producers are already ahead of the curve, reducing their emissions by 59% since 2005,” he said.
“Furthermore, the industry has already committed to producing carbon neutral meat by 2030 and is well on its way to meeting these targets.
“The pledge has attracted support from the Nationals Farmers Federation, the Red Meat Advisory Council and the Cattle Council of Australia.
“We support the Commonwealth’s signing of the pledge, provided there are no new taxes or reductions in herd numbers,” said CCA director John McGoverne.
“Australia’s beef industry is already on track to achieve net zero emissions without reducing headage.”
Mr Watt had previously ruled out putting a price on methane emissions as had been done in New Zealand.
Farmers for Climate Action, an organization representing more than 7,000 growers across Australia, said the pledge threatened agriculture must be spoken out.
“Farmers deserve the security of a safe and stable climate in which to grow our food,” said CEO Dr. Fiona Davis.
“Agricultural methane has declined while gas industry methane has increased.”