According to a new study by the University of New South Wales, farming kangaroos instead of sheep or cattle could lower national greenhouse gases in Australia by 3 percent a year.
Methane from burps and farts of cows and sheep is an often overlooked contributor to global warming, but it accounts for 67% of Australia’s agricultural sector methane emissions. It also contributes 11% of Australia’s total emissions. In contrast, kangaroos barely produce any methane.
Of course, changing an entire nation’s eating habits isn’t easy. Australia sells relatively little kangaroo meat for consumption compared to other types of meat, and then there’s the issue of kangaroos being a national icon. But Australia produces 1.5 of the world’s carbon emissions, so drastic steps certainly shouldn’t be out of the question. If the farming project actually takes off, the authors of the University of South Wales study estimate that rangelands could support 240 million kangaroos—and only 175 million kangaroos are needed to produce the same amount of meat currently harvested from rangelands.
Fortunately for those of us living outside of Australia, other countries are embarking on similar projects to reduce methane by farming low-emissions animals. Examples include springbok in South Africa, red deer in the UK, and bison in the United States. With CO2 emissions from other industries showing no signs of slowing down, eating a red deer burger doesn’t sound so bad.