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Carbon credits issued for cow methane reduction in potential world first

Highlights

Feed supplement to cut livestock methane emissions

New process registered under VCS carbon standard

Agriculture produces 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions

London — Carbon offset credits have been issued for cattle methane emissions reduction in what the company involved says is the world's first such issuance.

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Swiss agriculture technology company Mootral has launched the carbon crediting system for reducing methane emissions from cows.

The move highlights the growing links between the global agriculture business, international carbon markets and end users in the heavy industrial sectors who need carbon offsets to meet net-zero emissions targets.

"Cows are creating the world's first cattle-generated carbon credits thanks to Mootral's breakthrough natural feed supplement, Mootral Ruminant," the company said in a statement April 14.

The cattle feed supplement is proven to cut the volume of methane cows release by up to 38% while increasing yield naturally and enabling production of climate-friendly milk and beef, the company said.

The supplement works by changing the chemistry of enteric digestion in cows using natural ingredients, cutting methane emissions compared with existing cattle feed.

"Agricultural emissions are set to be under scrutiny at the COP26 climate summit in November this year, while the global carbon market, estimated to be worth $215 billion, is anticipated to grow even further after a 34% leap in 2019 on the previous year," Mootral said.

The development opens up a new front in the supply side of the global voluntary carbon market, and its size is potentially significant.

Greenhouse gas emissions from global livestock produce 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, eclipsing emissions from the world's entire transportation sector.

Moreover, methane has a global warming potential 84 times greater than CO2 emissions over a 20-year period, making it a priority in the race to slow global warming as the world embarks on a transition to clean energy.

Credits registered under VCS program

The company's cow emissions credits are recognized under the Verified Carbon Standard operated by Washington DC-based standards setter Verra.

The methodology's inclusion under recognized standards means livestock companies can potentially use the new cattle feed to earn a secondary revenue stream from the international carbon markets.

The credits are also eligible under the United Nations Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), which requires airline operators to offset any emissions above a 2019 baseline, in a pilot phase from 2021 to 2023.

Verra has approved a project in Scotland which uses the dairy cattle feed supplement to reduce methane emissions by an average annual reduction of 187,563 mt of CO2 equivalent over a seven-year first crediting period.

Mootral plans to roll out its feed supplement to the international cattle industry and is seeking a further $2.5 million to close a current seed funding round, with a further funding round to follow later in 2021.

The methodology has significant scope to contribute to global emissions reductions and supply of carbon offset credits to industry.

"Mootral estimates that if all 1.5 billion cows in the world ate Mootral Ruminant for a year, the reduction in methane emissions would be equivalent to taking 330 million European cars off the road – more than currently in use in the EU," it said.

"It also means over half a billion carbon credits could be generated, making Mootral one of the most scalable currently available solutions in the fight against climate change," the company said.

With global aviation emissions sharply down as a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, demand for CORSIA credits has been lower than originally expected, although interest has emerged from multiple sectors as companies seek to use offsets to meet net-zero emissions commitments.

CORSIA-eligible carbon (CEC) credits traded as high as $2.34/mt in March, compared with as low as $0.80/mt in January when S&P Global Platts launched a daily price assessment.