ROOS VERSUS MOOS; Cattle Producer Laughs off Climate Change Guru's Plan to Replace Cattle and Sheep with Kangaroos

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Byline: adrian taylor adrian.taylor@capnews.com.au

COULD Rockhampton one day be known as Australia's Kangaroo Capital?

Why not, say environmentalists who blame cows for releasing huge quantities of global warming gas into the atmosphere.

Fat chance, say farmers who believe Rocky is destined to remain the centre of the nation's beef industry.

Climate change guru Ross Garnaut's final report to the government on how to cut the nation's greenhouse gases suggests slashing cattle and sheep production in favour of roos.

As marsupials, they don't produce the vast quantities of methane that escape from the nation's millions of ruminants.

"The sheep and cattle industries are highly emissions intensive and there are currently limited opportunities for the reduction of methane emissions," says his report.

He says a widespread shift to kangaroo farming could transform the economic prospects of rural Australia and slash the production of carbon dioxide by 16 mega tonnes a year if seven million cattle and 36 million sheep were replaced by roos.

Beef cattle contributed 58% of Australia's agricultural emissions but marsupials emitted negligible amounts of methane.

"For most of Australia's human history, around 60,000 years, kangaroo was the main source of meat. It could again become important," he says, although he does accept there would have to be a change in food tastes and farm management.

By 2020 he would like to see the nation's kangaroo population leap from 34 million to 240 million to achieve the reduction. …