I am a camel. Not a carbon credit.
Camels are biting the bullet for Australian’s carbon emissions; no pun intended. The Aussies are quite literally willing to slaughter their camels in exchange for carbon credits. The Australian “Carbon Farming Initiative,” (CFI) hopes to include a new camel culling proposal (camel killing) as a way to receive carbon credits. This additional proposal to the CFI would allow “accredited marksmen” to go out on four wheeled vehicles and helicopters to participate in greening the landscape by way of sniping camels. The Australians’ motives behind camel killing may be viewed as questionable.
The Australian Government Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency’s three main goals for the Carbon Farming Initiative are:
- To create legislation establishing a carbon crediting mechanism;
- To track development of methodologies for offset projects; and
- To inform and provide tools to help farmers and landholders benefit from carbon markets (http://www.climatechange.gov.au/).
One carbon credit represents 1 tonne of carbon dioxide. The concept of carbon crediting was created at the Kyoto Protocol Conference on December eleventh 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. The Kyoto Protocol’s goal was to reduce carbon emissions worldwide. Farmers, manufacturers, and governments are coming together to create a new carbon regulation process. The most prominent feature that came of the conference was the process of “Emissions Trading”. Australia’s camel culling proposal would be a new way to earn carbon credits. The carbon market of “Emissions Trading” is currently being constructed by guidelines from the Kyoto Protocol. The carbon market allows credits to be bought, sold, and traded by the participating farmers, manufactures, and governments within the 37 industrialized governments that are involved in the Protocol. Article 17 of the Kyoto Protocol outlines carbon amounts allowed for each party involved in the market, assigned amount units (AAUs), and furthermore how carbon credits can be bought and sold. A quote from the Kyoto Protocol information site states, “Carbon is now tracked and traded like any other commodity.” (http://unfccc.int/)
The nerve of these camels to be spewing C02 everywhere, its ridiculous.
So where do camels weigh into the carbon market? Camel emissions are listed by the Australian proposal as 45kg of methane annually. This translates into 1 tonne of carbon dioxide, which as I said earlier counts for one carbon credit.
1.2 million camels graze around in Australia’s Outback. Camels were brought to Australia as early as 1800 and all through the 1900s. They were first used to aid in constructing railroads and telegraph lines. Camels have also been used in place of horses for racing in Sydney’s arenas when the horses have been sick. Now, camels are being shunned for their lack of eco-conciseness.
One long haul airplane flight over 7,000 km is equal to 1 tonne of carbon emissions; which amounts to that of a camel’s annual output. The Aussies aren’t interested in cutting back on their own flying, but rather on their camel’s grazing. Those free-loading camels are being voted off the island by the Department of Climate Change.
The camel culling proposal defends the carbon grubbers involved in this camel killing crusade. Here are some factors that contribute to the rising population of camels in Australia.
Now this is an eco friendly camel, the Australian camels could sure learn a few things from this one.
1. Camels can survive without water for long period
2. Camels can travel up to 70 kilometres a day; they range freely and are not territorial.
3. Camels suffer from few diseases in Australia
4. Camels have no natural predators in Australia
5. Camels usually have an adequate food supply (being able to feed on more than 80% of the available plant species)
6. Camels eat up to 3.5 kilograms of food per day, grazing on low shrubs or vegetation up to 3.5 metres
7. Camels live for up to 50 years, breed for 30 years of their life, and the cows give birth to a single calf on average every 2 years (Saalfeld & Edwards, 2008).
Yet, Australia’s biggest problems with camels are:
1. The amount of damage they do to the atmosphere through greenhouse gas emissions. As ruminant animals, the digestive processes camels undergo when consuming food sources leads to the release of methane. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, with a global warming potential of 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Each tonne of methane emitted to the atmosphere causes the same damage as the release of 21 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
2. Trampling. Given their large hoof size, and attraction en masse to watering points, camels cause significant trampling damage to culturally important and sensitive environmental assets. Large camel herds are also able to trample and trash stock fences, causing significant (and expensive) damage to pastoral infrastructure.
3. Competition. Given their large population size and commensurate demand for food resources, feral camel populations are creating a significant threat to biodiversity through overgrazing, and competition with native populations for scarce food and water resources. It is known that camel grazing is threatening regional extinction of mulga and quandong plants. Marsupials are also facing extinction threats as the result of competition with camels. Given that camels take up a physical ecological niche that has not otherwise been occupied in the Australian arid lands for millennia, they are able to graze sections of plants that are otherwise inaccessible to native grazers.
4. Infrastructure damage. Increasing numbers of feral camels are causing damage to pastoral infrastructure including fencing, yards and water points, and occurrences of localised damage in remote communities are believed to be increasing
To view the full proposal click, HERE.
To learn more about livestock and methane visit this EPA page.
Roughly 14% of greenhouse gasses can be attributed to agriculture (http://animals.howstuffworks.com)
There is no debating the fact that camels contribute to carbon emissions, however, many people are wondering whether killing camels is the right way to go about lowering emissions.
Zoologist George Wilson is not upset that camels may soon be capped for carbon, but rather, that they are being singled out. Goats, deer, and emus are all “spewing out methane” according to Wilson. If the camel has to go, then so should the emu. George says that each native emu is responsible for emitting 0.11 tones of carbon annually “the same as a goat and nearly up there with sheep.” (The Australian). An Australian staple species, the kangaroo, is not out of the carbon market gun-sight. There are about 34 million kangaroo’s grazing (free-loading) off of Australian soil, and are emitting methane all the while. The kangaroo, unlike the camel, is protected by the Aussie Wildlife Department and therefore will not soon become “fresh meat” for the carbon market. The emu, goat, and deer will have to stand their ground as the Australian Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency decide the fate of their environmental and carbon relevance.
Those accredited marksmen responsible for ridding the countryside of camels will be responsible for disposing of the carcasses in a humane way, which will more often than not result in the creation of camel-meat pet food.
A water bottle! Seriously! You unsustainable camel you!
Dr. Tim Moore, the managing director of Northwest Carbon, is an advocate of camel culling for carbon initiative. “If everyone knew what they were doing, people would be more concerned,” Dr. Moore states in an interview with Financial Times. Mr. Moore’s involvement is a conflict of interest as he is in charge of a company (Northwest Carbon) that would be making money killing camels for carbon credits and then selling the credits (blood credits) to industries and farmers who have exceeded their AAUs. Dr. Moore is also the one who drafted the camel culling proposal (excerpts above). Moore goes on to state that he believes that every camel culled would have an “emissions avoidance benefit” of 15 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Undoubtedly Dr. Moore is eagerly awaiting July 1st when he will know for sure if he is going to get to put his four wheelers and helicopters to use. And for those who don’t know about the harm camels are causing Moore states “It’s one of those ‘out of sight, out of mind’ problems.” (Financial Times)
Global warming advocate Al Gore never said anything about camels contributing to carbon emissions. Perhaps his next movie will be called “An Inconvenient Camel”? In comparison with other industrial pollutants, are camels really the big problem? Maybe it is the camel’s personality that the Aussie’s have a problem with. In many articles I found (below) there are complaints of “camel raids” where camels, in search of water, would ransack a village. Dr. Moore warns of them “coming into town and kicking down your toilet.” (Financial Times)
Camel’s heads will be given a nice price if the Australian camel culling bill passes leaving me to wonder, is this situation more about the cash or the carbon? The carbon market is a great way to reduce emissions but there will always be those attempting to take advantage of the system. Dr. Moore states himself in another interview that “We’re [Australians] a nation of innovators and we find innovative solutions to our challenges – this [camel culling] is just a classic example,” (Breitbart)
It seems as though Australians are more willing to kill their feral camels for cash than for an environmental benefit. The helicopters and four wheelers used to hunt camels would be putting out C02, as will the pet food factories and slaughterhouses that have to process the camel carcasses.
So, what do you think about camel culling for carbon credits? Are the Aussie’s killing for cash or for carbon?
Clark, Pilita. “Australia Poised to Allow Camel Cull.” Financial Times. 7 June 2011. Web. 10 June 2011. <http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/6e633ac8-9126-11e0-9668-00144feab49a.html#axzz1OuYCf7aE>.
Higgins, Ean. “Animals under Fire in Methane Blame Game | The Australian.” The Australian | The Australian Homepage | TheAustralian. Web. 10 June 2011. <http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/animals-under-fire-in-methane-blame-game/story-e6frg6z6-1225818573869>.
HowStuffWorks “Animals” Web. 10 June 2011. <http://animals.howstuffworks.com>.
“Carbon Farming Initiative – Think Change.” Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency – Home – Think Change. Web. 10 June 2011. <http://www.climatechange.gov.au/government/initiatives/carbon-farming-initative.aspx>.
“Management of Large Feral Herbivores (camels) in the Australian Rangelands – Think Change.” Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency – Home – Think Change. Web. 10 June 2011. <http://www.climatechange.gov.au/government/initiatives/carbon-farming-initative/methodology-development/methodologies-under-consideration/management-of-feral-herbivores.aspx>.
“‘Kill a Camel’ to Cut Pollution Concept in Australia.” Breitbart.com. Web. 10 June 2011. <http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.7a5f7af9f08212f6d2aaa2f75c515f65.6c1>.