Air emissions

“Dear Aunty, does this farmer really need to be worried about methane releases?”


Well, dears, yes. Yes, he does.

Not from exploiting shale gas though, but from his own work as a dairy farmer.

You see, pumpkins, worldwide, the dairy sector is thought to be responsible for between 2.5 and 4 percent of global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.

And it’s because cows, as a result of their unique digestive system, belch an awful lot of methane every year – as much as 120 kg per cow. This is roughly equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of an average family car.

Here in the UK, the average dairy herd stands at 113 heads of cattle.

If we assume that Mr Pemberton’s herd is of this average size, then it means his farming activities could be responsible for as much as 13.56 tonnes of methane releases every year.

Those are unabated releases of a GHG with a much higher (albeit more transient) global warming potential than carbon dioxide.

I can’t think of any other industry in the UK that would be permitted to routinely emit so much methane to atmosphere without any controls, sweeties.

Emissions of methane from shale gas extraction, by comparison, are regulated by at least three different sets of environmental legislation that impose duties on operators to minimise and control unabated methane emissions.

So, Mr Pemberton is right to worry about the effects of methane releases on the Fylde in Lancashire, but not from shale gas activities dears. From dairy farming.

Until next time xxx


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