In the meantime, it should be clear that further measures will have to be taken in the near future in order to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. While in some sectors the increasing innovative strength leads to more sustainable products, in some areas only little new can be heard. Agriculture is one example.
The global emissions of greenhouse gases in this area are quite high, accounting for a full 14.5 percent of total emissions. If you take a closer look at this proportion, you will see that 40 percent is caused by methane emissions from livestock. So what can be done to prevent cows belching and farting less, for example?
The red algae Asparagopsis taxiformis offers a possible approach. Recent studies suggest that livestock animals that use red algae as feed produce 80 percent less methane in their stomachs. As a result, less gas then gets into our atmosphere. But does the use of algae simply mean moving emissions to an earlier point?
No! Compared to other foods, algae and seaweed are fairly easy to grow and do not require fresh water or any other external support. If seaweeds grow in polluted waters, they can even sustainably increase the water quality. If the demand increases, the problem should be looked for elsewhere.
Because the offer is currently the limiting factor. 99 percent of the current demand comes from eight Asian regions. If you now fly algae from China to Germany and feed animals with it, the positive effect is already invalid. But this problem can also be solved. Seagrasses are easy to grow, especially in EU waters. Some estimates assume that production will grow from 300,000 tons (today) to 8 million tons (next decade).
The only question that remains is whether we can produce enough red algae with around 1 billion cows in the world. After all, algae will also be more and more popular with us humans. These are up to 10 times more nutritious than green vegetables and are already used in many places as an alternative to gelatine. So the plants will not solve the “fart problem” in agriculture, but they will still make a valuable contribution.