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Emily King
Manager, Woolgrower Education & Capacity Building
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Recognising sheep in the natural carbon cycle

Posted by Bestprac on Dec 06 2010

The Wool Carbon Alliance (WCA) has resolved to reset the carbon agenda and recognise the role sheep play in the natural carbon cycle, a role not properly recognised under current carbon accounting protocols.


WCA chairman Chick Olsson said consumers should be encouraged to rethink their views on sheep and greenhouse gases. While the climate may be changing, so must the understanding that sheep are part of the solution not part of the problem.

Carbon in plants and animals is continually passing through a natural atmospheric carbon cycle where carbon has been recycled for millions of years.7

The WCA recognises that wool is 50% carbon by weight3. Australian woolgrowers grew 370 million kg of greasy wool in 2009, equating to approximately 500 million kg of CO2 equivalents which have been captured and stored from the atmosphere as each kg of greasy wool stores around 1.3 kg of CO2.1

The European Commission reports that a household can cut its CO2 emissions by up to 300kg a year and energy bill by 5-10 per cent simply by reducing its heating by a mere 1°C.2 Energy prices are expected to rise significantly in the next few years4, consumers have a natural solution by wearing natural fibres such as wool.

Professor Tim Flannery, Dr Christine Jones and the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists have described the vital role of terrestrial or land based carbon in drawing down atmospheric carbon as part of a natural system.5, 7

“Optimising Carbon in the Australian landscape”, a paper produced by The Wentworth Group states “at a global scale, a 15% increase in the world’s terrestrial carbon stock would remove the equivalent of all the carbon pollution emitted from fossil fuels since the beginning of the industrial revolution.”

Australian woolgrowers are enhancing their land in tune with the national Landcare movement through initiatives such as Land, Water & Wool, Evergraze, Grain and Graze.  

1 Swan, P: Wool as a carbon sink: a comparative analysis. Dec 2009
2 EC Climate Action
3 Höcker, H. ‘Fibre Morphology’ in Wool: Science and Technology, ed. Simpson, W.S and Crawshaw, G.H, Woodhead Publishing Limited, Cambridge, 2002, p.60-79
4 “Powering Australia” Keith Orchison. November
5 Optimising carbon in the Australian Landscape. Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists. October 2009
6 David Mason-Jones. “Should meat be on the menu?” 2010
7. Dr Christine Jones, 

Released by:
Marius Cuming

Last changed: Feb 07 2012



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