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Contribution of Livestock to Greenhouse Gasses

Discuss about the Research Essay for Greenhouse Gas Emission.

Greenhouse gasses have been a major concern for the environmentalists and the government around the world. Due to the greenhouse effects, the balance of the weather and the climate also gets disrupted. Although there are few of the advantages of greenhouse effects, its disadvantages outweigh the advantages that it has. It is interesting to note that one of the major sources of greenhouse gas is the wastes and the digestion of the livestock such as cattle, sheep goats and many more. Therefore, it is a great concern for the governments to manage the livestock in such a way that it balances the gas in the atmosphere of earth. The aim of this paper is to analyse the contribution of livestock on the production of greenhouse gasses. Apart from that, the paper also showcases a discussion regarding the policies that may allow the administrations to reduce the problems. 

Livestock and their wastes produce a lot of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere creating a problem for the other lives on earth. As per the data, the wastes from livestock create about 7 gigatons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of earth. Again the study of UN food and agricultural organization also has stated that the digestion and the wastes of the livestock contribute to 18% of the production of CO2 in the environment. Gerber et al. (2013) highlighted that the impacts of the livestock on the production of the CO2 in the environment are almost same for the case of Australia as well. The food and agriculture department of Australia in the research of 2015 stated that the wastes of cows and sheep mainly contribute to the greenhouse gasses such as the carbon-di-oxide.

The demand for the livestock has been increasing with the increase in the population of the world and the population of Australia as well. Beavan (2017) pointed out that the increase in the demand for the livestock has been 13% more than the increase in the populations. There are many of the stages which impact on the level of greenhouse in the atmosphere of the earth. While the digestion and the wastes of the livestock contribute the most, the post-slaughter transport, the refrigerator has also been reported to increase the level of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Coglan (2016) stated that, 36% of all the contribution from the wastes and the digestion of the livestock. This huge amount goes into the creation of the CO2 which often goes beyond the capacity of the environment. Apart from that, the 16% of overall contribution is through the packaging of the slaughtered livestock which also gives rise to the CO2 level in the environment.

Negative Externalities of Livestock Industry

The increase in the greenhouse gasses due to the wastes and the digestion of the livestock, not only impacts the environment and the atmosphere of the world it also influences the economic outcome and the indicators as well. The increase in the greenhouse gas affects the health of the customers of the market which the production of anything does not consider and internalize. For example, the increasing greenhouse gas due to the livestock industry may produce more than the equilibrium (Department of Agriculture, 2013). The producers in this case only consider the private cost of productions and the demand from the side of the customers. However, a social cost which also includes the cost to treat the diseases due to the increased greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is often neglected.

Figure 1: the impacts of the negative externality on the equilibrium

(Source: Gerber et al. 2013)

As the figure 1 shows the avoidance of the social cost of the market results in the excessive production in the market that does not efficiently allocates the resources of the market and hence the market fails. When the cost of the treatment is included in the production of livestock-related products, the supply of the product goes down. Now the producers include the social cost which is more than the private costs and hence supplies fewer amounts at each price levels. Therefore the supply curve shifts to the left reducing the production and increasing the price of the products. Heffernan (2017) in this context noted that this increased price of the products further reduces the negative externality benefiting the interest of the environment and the human as a whole.

There are a number of ways the government can reduce the negative externality associated with the industry of livestock and the related productions. First and the foremost actions which are generally taken by the government throughout the world is the imposition of taxes on the methane emissions. Methane is one of the greenhouse gasses that get exuded from the cattle. The government set a basic allowable limit for each of the producers and extra taxes are imposed for each extra emission of methane. This can compel the producers to reduce the production due to the changes in the cost of production. However, Herrero (2016) contrasted that, these taxes do not effectively work in practice due to the lack of proper inspection of the government over the emission levels.

Reducing Negative Externalities through Government Policies

Furthermore, the government can reduce the externality or compel the producers of the industry to internalise the effect through negotiation and discussion with the stakeholders. Through this process, the government using the representative can suggest the producers of the market use a different technology for the production in the livestock industry. This will not only guide the producers to adopt a new technology but innovation in the field can also be generated. Herrero et al. (2016) stated that, it is important for the government to make sure that the producers of the market are aware of the negative effects the production is having on the environment and the humans. Philips and Wilks (2017) contrasted that this approach paves the way for lobbying and bribery in the market which ultimately fails to influence the level externality related to the production in the livestock industry.

Thirdly, the awareness regarding the use of alternative meat which does not come from the livestock can also be undertaken so that production can be reduced. This approach to reducing the externality takes a long time to implement the effects and hence needs to be perfectly articulate before the implementation.  Beavan (2017) highlighted that loopholes in the execution from the side of the government may lead to further increase in the level of a negative externality. Many studies have found out that lack of goals of the government and proper intent may often limit the government to take serious action on the problem. 

Conclusion

Therefore, livestock digestion, along with the supply of food due to the increased population of the world also contributes to the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere as well. Mainly the wastes and the digestions of these mammals contribute to the production of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of earth.  Apart from that wastes and the digestion of the livestock, the packaging and the transportation also does the damage. The main reason for the failure of the market, in this case, is the avoidance of the social cost that is often overlooked by the producers. There are many ways government can step in to curb negative externalities of the industry. Although most of the approaches of the government have attracted criticism, they can be made effective with proper planning, execution, and monitoring. 

Reference

Beavan, K. (2017, 22 Nov.) Australian red meat sector sets 2030 carbon neutral target at Alice Springs producer forum. ABC News. Retrieved from https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2017-11-22/meat-livestock-australia-sets-cattle-industry-carbon-target/9180902

Coglan, L. (Compiler). (2016). BSB113: Essentials of Economics (4th ed.). Australia: Pearson Australia, Chapter 11.2

Department of Agriculture. (2013). Australian agriculture: reducing emissions and adapting to a changing climate. Key findings of the Climate Change Research Program. CC BY 3.0. Retrieved from: https://www.agriculture.gov.au/Style%20Library/Images/DAFF/__data/assets/pdffile/0006/2359815/reducing-emissons-adapting-changing-climate.pdf

Gerber, P.J., Steinfeld, H., Henderson, B., Mottet, A., Opio, C., Dijkman, J., Falcucci, A. and Tempio, G. (2013). Tackling climate change through livestock – A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome. Retrieved from https://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3437e/i3437e.pdf

Heffernan, O. (2017). Sustainability: A meaty issue. Nature, 544, S18. doi: 10.1038/544S18a. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/544S18a

Herrero, M. (2016, 22 March). To reduce greenhouse gases from cows and sheep, we need to look at the big picture. The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/to-reduce-greenhouse-gases-from-cows-and-sheep-we-need-to-look-at-the-big-picture-56509

Herrero, M., Henderson, B., Havlík, P., Thornton, P. K., Conant, R. T., Smith, P., . . . Stehfest, E. (2016). Greenhouse gas mitigation potentials in the livestock sector. Nature Climate Change, 6, 452. doi: 10.1038/nclimate2925. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/nclimate2925

Philips, C. and Wilks, M. (2017, 22 February). No Animal required, but would people eat article meat? The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/no-animal-required-but-would-people-eat-artificial-meat-72372

Wilks, M. and Phillips, C.J.C. (2017). Attitudes to in vitromeat: A survey of potential consumers in the United States. PLOS ONE, 12(2): e0171904.https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0171904.

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