Cow farts and net zero: the climate challenge

Mick Holland and Chris de Cuyper.

THE City of Fremantle is reviewing its Strategic Community Plan. Freelance journalist Ryan Emery has been talking to Fremantle residents and visitors about their thoughts on the city’s future. Today’s topic is ‘Climate Future’. 

HOW far would you go to combat climate change? 

What about investing your business, life and accommodation in the cause?

Fremantle residents Chris de Cuyper and Vanessa Rauland are walking the talk.

Mr de Cuyper and his business partner Mick Holland have set up a seaweed feed business that they hope will significantly reduce emissions from cattle.

Dr Rauland created Climate Clever to help businesses measure their emissions output and reach net-zero.

Her PhD was about decarbonising cities, which includes building more apartments to maximise accommodation on smaller footprints. Naturally, Dr Rauland lives in an apartment in Fremantle with her partner and child.

Mr de Cuyper and Dr Rauland have similar goals, but they’re tackling it from different ends. 

Mr de Cuyper is specifically looking at two ends: reducing the level of methane produced in cattle’s burps and flatulence by feeding them Asparagopsis seaweed.

CSIRO trials have found the seaweed supplement can reduce methane emissions from cattle by more than 80 per cent.


“My business partner is the same as me and instead of just sitting around and yelling at the TV about climate change, we really wanted to get out and do something and that’s where Fremantle Seaweed came along,” he said.

Mr de Cuyper moved to Fremantle several years ago because of the lifestyle, proximity to the coast and a shared ideology.

“The city of Fremantle’s residents are like-minded, but it also feels like the City are also very like-minded and progressive towards climate change, accepting that it is real and also supporting people to do something about it,” he said.

“I think we’re probably one of the leading climate change cities of Perth.”

After three years of research, government approvals and business development, Mr de Cuyper found that an ideal spot to grow warm-water and cold-water Asparagopsis varieties was conveniently just off the coast of Fremantle at CY O’Connor Beach.

Vanessa Rauland is tackling climate change through technology and says more apartment living in Freo is the way to go.

Fremantle Seaweed’s first pilot seaweed farm will be harvested in the coming weeks. The plan is to have a full crop for feed stock next year.

But Mr de Cuyper said there is still much work to be done and warns Fremantle could be in danger of missing out on businesses similar to his with the City of Cockburn creating a Blue Economy Innovation Hub.

“If we wanted to set up our own facility with a seawater supply, it can get quite expensive and there’s not many of those facilities,” he said.

“So if the City of Fremantle had some land, or a warehouse space, that has the ability to do that, whether it’s the Fishing Boat Harbour or North Port, it would be great to keep Fremantle Seaweed in Fremantle.”

Dr Rauland is tackling climate emissions through technology, but said previous methods to reach net zero were no longer viable for many with the cost of carbon credits increasing significantly.

“Therefore the question becomes do we want to spend $100,000 on purchasing offsets to become carbon neutral or do we want to spend $100,000 on decarbonising our facilities and infrastructure, and putting solar on all our buildings?” she said.

Dr Rauland said creating more apartments in Fremantle was a way to address climate change by sharing resources and creating closed loop systems of waste, water and energy.


She said the new builds needed to include more sustainable materials such 

as low-carbon concrete and laminated timbers.

“All developers should be looking at the lowest embodied carbon possible,” she said.

“And that’s also what the City of Freo can play a role in.

“Actually choosing developers that are putting forward the most sustainable building possible.

“Apartment living benefits from economies of scale as well, and living in an apartment block means you use less heating and cooling, you’re living in a smaller space, there’s just so many efficiencies.”

But Dr Rauland said some existing apartments were too small and new builds needed to be modelled on European apartments that accommodated several generations of one family under the one roof.

Fremantle residents can have their say about the ‘Climate Future’ by visiting mysay.

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