How can industry reduce dairy methane emissions, and why is it important? The dairy industry produces up to 4% of greenhouse gas emissions, and approximately 16% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from methane emissions, which pose a significant threat to the environment and global climate.
Methane is considered worse for the climate than Carbon Dioxide (CO2) because it has a much higher global warming potential. While CO2 remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas with a shorter atmospheric lifetime of around 12 years. This means that over a 20-year time frame, methane is estimated to be about 84 times worse for trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2. Additionally, methane has a greater effect on increasing tropospheric ozone concentration, another potent greenhouse gas. While reducing CO2 emissions is certainly important, addressing methane emissions is also critical in mitigating climate change.
Taking action to address this issue, Danone recently announced that it would reduce dairy methane emissions by 30% from its supply chain, making it one of the first major food companies to commit specifically to reduce dairy methane emissions. Dairy companies have also pledged to reduce other greenhouse gas emissions and implement sustainable practices. These commitments reflect the growing recognition of the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change.
How to Reduce Dairy Methane Emissions for Danone
Danone has set a lofty goal and is taking the necessary steps to realize it. Working together with farmers, it plans to boost manure management and feed quality and improve herd management procedures. These measures should help reduce dairy methane emissions originating from cow digestion.
The company seeks to fund research in sustainable feed substitutes such as linseed, rapeseed, cottonseed and the like instead of conventional animal feed components, all of which would reduce enteric methane output. Furthermore, renewable energies like biogas and solar power will counteract the methane residue from dairy operations and reduce dairy methane emissions overall.
The company, which reduced dairy methane emissions by 14% from 2018 to 2020, aligns its new targets with the Global Methane Pledge, an agreement between the US and EU at COP26 to reduce global methane emissions by 30% by 2030.
These measures must be implemented to reduce dairy methane emissions and hit their stated goal of a 30% reduction to contribute significantly to climate change mitigation. Danone is setting a new standard for sustainability in the dairy industry by promoting responsible sourcing practices and reducing environmental impact throughout its entire supply chain.
Plans to Reduce Dairy Methane by Other Companies
Nestle, Arla Foods, and Fonterra, among others, have also made commitments to reduce dairy methane emissions and implement sustainable practices in their operations.
Nestle has set its sights on net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which includes implementing ways to reduce dairy methane emissions from its supply chain. To meet this goal, the company has sought to improve farm efficiency, invest in renewable energy sources, and support farmers’ transition to sustainable agricultural practices.
Arla Foods has also committed to reduce dairy methane greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030. To achieve this objective, they plan to reduce fossil fuel use for transportation, invest in renewable energy sources, and encourage farmers to make more sustainable choices. Additionally, Fonterra intends to reduce dairy methane greenhouse gas emissions from their operations by 30% by 2030. They plan to accomplish this by increasing farm efficiency, investing in renewable energy sources, and reducing emission output from manufacturing processes.
Environmentalist Ice Cream manufacturer Ben & Jerry’s also has incorporated strategies to reduce dairy methane emissions from their operations.
Partnerships between companies, governments and NGOs are a great way to promote innovation and find creative solutions to reduce dairy methane emissions. An important example of this is the Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance (LEAP) partnership which involves organizations from multiple sectors to create a framework for assessing and reporting greenhouse gas emissions from livestock. This enables them to identify improvement opportunities and target investment into sustainable practices.
Dairy industry methane emissions can also be reduced using technology. Precision farming techniques like feeding and manure management can improve efficiency and reduce dairy methane emissions. Using sensors and data analytics, precision feeding optimizes animal diets and reduces enteric dairy methane emissions. Through technologies such as anaerobic digestion and composting, precision manure management reduces emissions.
AI can be used to pinpoint factors which could lead to a rise in methane emissions and offer advice on how to minimize the damage. For instance, researchers at the University of Vermont have created an AI-driven system that monitors cow behaviour and can detect any early signs of health or stress, both of which may cause an increase in methane release. If these warning signs can be identified in advance, farmers will be equipped to address the issue before it grows into something worse, resulting in even higher emissions.
To combat climate change, the dairy industry must reduce dairy methane emissions. Companies like Danone, Nestle, Arla Foods, and Fonterra are taking action to reduce emissions and promote sustainable practices across their supply chains. To achieve these goals, collaborative efforts and innovative technologies are essential.
In addition to choosing sustainably sourced dairy products and supporting companies prioritizing climate action and sustainability, consumers can also help reduce dairy methane emissions. Governments can also incentivize companies to adopt more sustainable practices and invest in research and development to find new solutions. The industry can significantly reduce dairy methane emissions by working together.