Carbon-sequestering forestry is only temporary and should not be the sole basis of Australia’s response to GHG emissions, according to research released by ClimateWorks.
“In order to keep offsetting new emissions, new parcels of land need to be reforested, a process that cannot continue forever. Forestry is also vulnerable to bushfires, drought and heatwaves – many of which are being made worse by climate change,” according to the research report.
The research, contained in Decarbonisation Futures: Solutions, Actions and Benchmarks, builds on a 2014 report developed with ANU and CSIRO.
Technological breakthroughs could significantly reduce livestock emissions by 2050, but challenges such as non-energy emissions from grains and horticulture production must also be addressed, the report warned.
Cattle, both beef and dairy, constitute agriculture’s largest source of emissions. “While mature solutions exist for incremental improvements in cattle emissions, options for zero emissions remain at the emerging stage … Meanwhile, technical improvements have made lab- and plant-based meat more feasible.”
The report lists possible technical improvements such as algae feeds and vaccines. It also lists non-technical solutions such as reduced food waste and shifts towards less emissions-intensive meat products.
Emissions intensity of grains, horticulture and other agriculture will improve largely due to nitrification inhibitors combined with precision agriculture and automation to boost energy efficiency.
ClimateWorks is staging a free webinar to discuss the report on April 29 2020. Book at https://mailchi.mp/e.climateworksaustralia.org/online-event-decarbonisation-futures-briefing-room?e=bc04e584f7