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Impact and investment

CN30 is an industry-wide goal and progress is measured at an aggregate level with data collected and collated by the Australian National Greenhouse Gas Inventory.

Three key greenhouse gases that are focus for reduction, being methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide. To measure each gas collectively, a unit of measure called a carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) is used.

Net zero or carbon neutrality will be achieved when total emissions are counteracted or balanced by the volume of carbon stored in trees and soils within the red meat industry or offset through purchased credits.


2019: 50% reduction achieved.*
2022: 57% reduction achieved.
2025: CN30 R&D comes to fruition and investment focus moves to commercial scaling and adoption in farming.
2028: anticipated 80% reduction at which point it is estimated to coincide with achieving climate neutrality.
2030: Net zero emissions and industry is carbon neutral.

*Reported emissions by the NGGI have a four year time lag; for example, 2022 emissions update reflects the 2018 emissions profile.

Investing towards CN30

Figure 2 Graph of Work Area by $ Spend (TEMPORARY DASHBOARD)

CN30 Program of investment has committed $120 M to deliver R&D to 2025 and anticipates further $70 million in spend to achieve net zero target by 2030.

MLA is interested in engaging with stakeholders from XY sectors for co-funding and collaboration. Contact MLA or view Current tenders here.

Benefits for producers
  • novel animal supplements and legumes which can increase live weight gains and dramatically reduce methane emissions
  • increased soil organic matter from deep rooted pastures and legumes, which improves soil health, feedbase productivity and drought resilience
  • improvements in genetics and herd management which can reduce methane emissions per kilogram of live weight produced, enabling productivity improvements alongside reductions in emissions intensity.
Benefits for the consumer
  • the knowledge that purchasing Australian red meat is good for the environment.
Benefits for the community
  • the red meat industry is making a substantial contribution to Australia’s international commitments on climate change.

What will this mean for Australia’s national livestock numbers?

Carbon neutrality doesn’t need to come at the cost of livestock numbers.

CSIRO analysis shows it’s possible to achieve CN30 without reducing herd and flock numbers below the rolling 10 year average (25 million cattle, 70 million sheep and 0.5 million goats).

By 2030, producers will be even more attuned to the influence of genetic, environmental, technological and market factors on red meat production, and will be able to:

  • access the best information, enabling selection of livestock with multiple attributes to increase productivity and reduce methane emissions per kilogram produced
  • select supplements, pastures, legumes and trees with multiple attributes, enabling livestock to thrive in more extreme weather and climate conditions
  • access more established markets for low and zero carbon red meat and co-products.


What has been achieved?

The red meat and livestock industry currently contributes 11.8% of all of Australia’s GHG emissions – this figure has halved since 2005.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the red meat and livestock industry have fallen by 53.2% since 2005. In addition to emissions, it now takes 68% less water to produce a kilo of beef.

MLA’s Program Manager – Sustainability Innovation, Doug McNicholl shared an update on the CN30 initiative during the 2021 MLA updates: IMPACT webinar series. Watch the recording below.

What is being done?

MLA has developed the following areas of work, to deliver outputs which are required for industry to achieve CN30:

  1. GHG emissions avoidance activities on-farm, feedlots and processing.
  2. Carbon storage on-farm via trees, legumes and pastures.
  3. Integrated management systems linking GHG emissions avoidance and carbon storage activities into farm system thinking.
  4. Leadership building to support growth in capacity and competency among individuals and organisations.

CN30 is the Australian Red Meat industry's aspirational target to be carbon neutral by 2030

MLA is working on the following tools and technologies for producers to cost‑effectively reduce emissions and boost the value of red meat sales.

Carbon accounting tool and training packages

MLA has been working to develop a carbon accounting tool so producers can determine their net GHG emissions position, identify strategies to reduce these emissions and improve carbon storage on‑farm.

A carbon accounting training manual (due for release in late 2020) is also being developed to help producers get on the front foot and maintain or improve productivity while reducing emissions.

New supplements and feedbase options

More than three‑quarters of emissions from enteric fermentation (digestion) are from beef cattle on pasture. Approximately half these emissions are from cows aged more than two years.

This is why MLA and its research partners are investing in new feedbase options and supplements which reduce methane emissions from livestock and improve animal growth rates and reproduction.

Legumes such as leucaena and desmanthus can raise animal productivity, reduce methane emissions and offer additional soil health benefits by fixing nitrogen.

Several supplements have been identified which provide reductions in enteric methane and improvements in animal productivity, including the following:

  • 3-Nitrooxypropanol (3-NOP) is likely to be available to producers within the next few years and can reduce enteric methane emissions in cattle fed grain-based diets
  • marine macroalgae such as Asparagopsis app has been shown to substantially reduce enteric methane emissions when incorporated into feedlot rations.