Canada cracks down on cow burps

Canada proposed a new strategy to slash methane emissions by offering cattle farmers incentives if they feed their cows food that will make them burp less. 

Yes, we are dead serious.

What happened: The plan would give farmers offset credits for switching their cows to feed with additives (like oil and extra grain) that reduce the amount of methane cattle produce. These credits can then be sold to companies to help them meet emissions reduction goals. 

Why it’s happening: Cows. We love them. Whether they’re frolicking in fields or served medium-rare on our tables. However, they produce methane when they digest food and release it into the atmosphere through burps — a process called enteric methane emission.  

  • While other herbivores also produce methane, cows are by far the largest contributors, accounting for 96% of enteric methane emissions in Canada.

Why it matters: Like an environmental hipster, Canada was into combatting methane way before it went mainstream. In 2018, it became one of the first countries to establish methane regulations for its oil and gas sector. It’s now looking to cut farming’s methane footprint.

  • While not as abundant or long-lasting as carbon, methane is ~28 times more potent at trapping heat, making it responsible for ~30% of the current uptick in global temps. 

Zoom out: The methane comes off the heels of the newly announced carbon cap ordering the oil and gas industry to cut emissions by 35% to 38% below 2019 levels by 2030.—QH