Most beef farmers in Ireland are losing money. In view of this, some policymakers and commentators think that it would be in the national interest to encourage a lot of them to give up their loss-making hobby and to switch to growing biofuels instead. They claim that this would be doubly beneficial because the methane the cattle belch would not be released into the atmosphere and add to climate change but the use of the biofuel would reduce the tonnage of fossil fuel emissions that had to be included in the national greenhouse gas returns.
As part of its work for 2010-11, the Carbon Cycles and Sinks Network was asked by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to report on whether a policy designed to reduce beef production and increase biofuel output would really be advantageous and, if so, whether a programme could be developed which stood a reasonable chance of being successful. You can read a draft of the CCSN report here. It has some surprising results. As it has not yet been formally submitted to the department, suggestions for its improvement would be very welcome.
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