Cars, Cattle and Ethanol
Statement by Viv Forbes, Chairman, The Carbon Sense Coalition
The Carbon Sense Coalition today accused climate alarmists of scientific incompetence in promoting ethanol as an offset
to animal emissions.
The Chairman of “Carbon Sense”, Mr Viv Forbes, was responding to claims by Mr Combet that agriculture (mainly cattle and
sheep) “made up 23% of Australia’s emissions”.
“Why are emissions from cattle eating grain classed as bad whereas emissions from cars burning grain ethanol are good?
“Consider a paddock of corn. Most of the carbon in the growing plant comes from carbon dioxide in the air and is
converted to plant material using solar energy via the magic of photosynthesis. Some comes from the atmosphere via
microbes in the soil.
“This plant material, either biomass or grain, can be fed to cattle or made into ethanol for motor fuel.
“Both cattle and cars then use an internal digestion/combustion process to extract the energy stored in the plant
“Both processes produce gaseous emissions. In cars, virtually every atom of ethanol carbon burnt produces one molecule
of carbon dioxide. In cattle, some of the plant’s carbon is stored for a while in flesh and bones, and the rest is
emitted as the natural gases carbon dioxide and methane. This methane is soon oxidised in the atmosphere to produce
“Over the life of a car or a cow, they both produce the same carbon emissions. Every atom of carbon extracted from the
air by the green plant eventually returns to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, the plant food. This is the cycle of
“It is therefore scientific incompetence or deliberate fraud by government climate alarmists to claim that consuming
ethanol in cars is good and should be subsidised but consuming the same plant material in cows must be rationed and
“An ethanol industry propped up by subsidies and mandates is not sustainable. This industry damages taxpayers and pushes
up the cost of grains, beef, pork, eggs, milk and cereals.
“Subsidising ethanol brings no environmental benefits and is the enemy of the poor and hungry of the world. Its special
privileges should be immediately removed.”