Bill Gates backs new startup aiming to reduce emissions from cow burps | Bill Gates

Bill Gates has led a new $12m investment in an Australian company that is aiming to feed seaweed to cows in order to reduce the planet-heating emissions that come from their burps. Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which the Microsoft co-founder created in 2015, has spearheaded the funding of the Perth-based startup, which is called Rumin8. Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder, and Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma are also backers of the Breakthrough fund. Rumin8 is developing a range of supplements to feed to cows in order to reduce the amount of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, they belch out. The feed includes red seaweed and rangeland plants that replicate “nature’s anti-methanogenic compound” and cut methane output. Gaseous ruminants are not often thought of as significant causes of the climate crisis, unlike cars or power plants, but the hoofed beasts can belch out 220lb of methane a year, equivalent to burning 900 gallons of gasoline. Combined, this endless procession of burps is a major contributor of methane, a gas that traps heat 80 times more effectively than carbon dioxide and is rising in emissions globally. A study last year found that the combined methane emissions of 15 of the world’s largest meat and dairy companies are higher than those of several of the world’s largest countries, including Russia, Canada and Australia. The US and EU are among those to have signed a global pledge to reduce methane emissions 30% by 2030 but with worldwide meat-eating expected to rise in the coming decades some companies have looked at ways of directly reducing the climate impact of the planet’s 1 billion cows. Research has previously found that adding seaweed to Cow feed can reduce methane formation in their guts by more than 80%. Gates has previously spoken out about the climate impact of meat eating and has advocated that people switch entirely to consuming synthetic beef.“There is a genuine desire to fund solutions to enteric methane emissions from livestock and fortunately for Rumin8, they can see the benefits of our technology,” said David Messina, managing director of Rumin8, which will use the funding to commercialize its product. “Our laboratory results continue to yield excellent results, our animal trials are reflecting the laboratory results, and the financial modeling we are undertaking is indicating we will be able to supply our products at a commercial price point.”

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