NZ’s low carbon cows: global warming heroes?

CowA new report from Lincoln University´s Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit finds that New Zealand’s dairy industry has a smaller global warming footprint than the UK’s, even after taking into account the emissions resulting from shipping products half way round the world. From Lincoln’s press release:

The Lincoln study´s central finding is that the UK produces 35 percent more emissions per kilogram of milk solid than New Zealand and 31 percent more emissions per hectare than New Zealand – even including transportation from New Zealand to Britain and the carbon dioxide generated in that process.

The report’s lead author, professor Caroline Saunders, explains the importance of this finding:

“Our report clearly demonstrates the fallacy of using a simplistic concept like `food miles´ as a basis for restrictive trade and marketing policies. It is obvious that production systems and not transport are the major contributor to the differences in greenhouse gas emissions and energy use.

Pet food or power?

This week’s Economist has an excellent special report on business and climate change. The leader discussing the issue reminds me just how incisive the magazine can be:

There’s scope for new investment. In 2003, the most recent year for which figures are available, America’s power-generation business, arguably the world’s biggest single polluter, spent a rather smaller proportion of its revenues on R&D than did America’s pet-food business.

Required reading (thanks for the tip, Mike).