To: Eamon Ryan - Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications

End Cows Burps - Reduce Carbon Hoofprint

You've heard of the carbon footprint. Now there is a development on the carbon hoofprint.

New Zealand has announced a plan to tax livestock burps in an effort to curb the country's gas emissions. We think Ireland should consider doing the same.

Why is this important?

Methane emissions from animals is a well-known issue. Cows alone are responsible for about 40% of those planet-warming gases globally — mainly through their burps.

UC Davis scientist Ermias Kebreab is something of a cow whisperer who has spent two decades studying the greenhouse gas contributions of hoofed animals.

"If you tell me how much your animal is consuming, I can tell you pretty closely to the actual emissions using mathematical models," he said.

"Most of the gas is formed in their stomach, so in their guts, particularly in the first chamber. And so they belch it out."

He and other scientists have developed special diets and genetic predictions that could help reduce the methane formed in cow stomachs.

Now, New Zealand could become the first country to tax its way to fewer "four-legged" emissions.

There were 7.3 million cattle, 5.5 million sheep, 1.6 million pigs and almost 16.5 million poultry on Irish farms in 2020, while the average farm size has increased by 0.7 hectares (or 2.2 per cent) in 2020.