June 9, 2011

Culling Camels For Carbon Credits

Australia is heavily reliant on coal-fired power and mining exports to power itself, making it one of the world's worst per capita polluters. Now the government is looking at ways to reduce its carbon footprint, reports the AFP news agency.

One of the wilder ideas is to cull approximately 1.2 million feral camels that inhabit the wilderness areas of the country. One camel produces an average of 1 ton of carbon per year, collectively making them a major source of greenhouse gases

Camels were introduced to Australia's Outback in the 19th century as a replacement for horses. Camels were better suited to the dry climate at the time. Perhaps they were too-well suited. Wild camels are now considered a pest due to the damage they do to native vegetation. The animals have no natural predators and the population has exploded.

Adelaide-based Northwest Carbon, a carbon project developer, has developed the rules, or methodology, governing a strict camel culling program that would also cut greenhouse gas emissions. The initial plan would be to shoot them from helicopters or muster them and send them to an abattoir for either human or pet consumption.

"We're a nation of innovators and we find innovative solutions to our challenges, this is just a classic example," Northwest Carbon managing director Tim Moore told Australian Associated Press.

The idea was among those accepted for discussion by the government, which is seeking to "provide new economic opportunities for farmers, forest growers and landholders" if they come up with ways to cut emissions, according to the document.

Agriculture comprises a large portion of a country's greenhouse gas emissions. In Australia, it is about 15 percent, while in New Zealand dairy farming, sheep grazing and other activities generate about half the country's total, mostly methane from livestock. One cow can emit 1.5 tons of methane a year, Reuters reports.

Camel culling under the methodology could generate up to 18 million carbon credits, with more than 650,000 created per year during the initial three to five years, Northwest Carbon said in a statement on Thursday.


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