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B.CCH.2124 - 2021 Greenhouse gas footprint of the red meat industry.

The Australian red meat sector is committed to benchmarking emissions reduction towards net zero.

Project start date: 16 March 2024
Project end date: 20 January 2026
Publication date: 02 May 2024
Project status: Completed
Livestock species: Grain-fed Cattle, Grass-fed Cattle, Sheep, Goat, Lamb
Relevant regions: National
Download Report (0.5 MB)


This report provides updated estimates of emissions attributable to the Australian red meat industry based on the 2021 Australian National Greenhouse Gas Inventory. The report presents greenhouse gas emissions for beef cattle, sheep meat and goats in 2021, and recalculates emissions from 2005–2020 using current inventory data.


To calculate greenhouse gas emissions from the Australian red meat industry using data from the 2021 Australian National Inventory.

Key findings

In 2021, net greenhouse gas emissions from the red meat industry were 31 Mt CO2-equivalents representing a 40% decrease compared with 2020, and a 78% decrease compared with the reference year of 2005 when total emissions were 145 Mt CO2-equivalents.

These changes in emissions are primarily due to a reduction in clearing of forest and sparse woody vegetation, and an increase in vegetation growth and carbon storage.

Reductions in livestock emissions (enteric methane, manure management) since 2005 are also related to changes in the national herd size. Similar to previous reports, the majority of emissions in 2021 are associated with enteric methane produced by grazing beef cattle, and land cleared and converted to grassland.

Storage of carbon in grazing landscapes is sensitive to climatic conditions, and continued progress towards net zero goals will require a reduction in agricultural emissions, particularly enteric CH4.

Benefits to industry

Annual reporting of emissions enables performance tracking with respect to industry targets.

MLA action

The GHG Footprint of industry helps to guide the strategic direction of research and development initiatives towards emissions reduction. In addition, MLA will seek opportunities to incorporate new data as it becomes available to continually improve accuracy of benchmarking.

Future research

The report provides recommendations of data that would improve the accuracy of these calculations, and capture improvements in efficiency made on-farm and in feedlots.

More information

Project manager: Julia Waite
Contact email: