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Large companies leading the way in global "Pathways to Dairy Net Zero" climate initiative

28 September 2021

40 leading organizations, including 11 of the 20 largest dairy companies in the world, among first to support new global “Pathways to Dairy Net Zero” climate initiative.

Pathways to Dairy Net Zero, a ground-breaking new climate initiative, includes 11 of the 20 largest dairy companies in the world. Collectively, these supporters represent approximately 30% of total milk production worldwide.

The new climate initiative demonstrates the global dairy sector’s commitment to reducing GHG emissions while continuing to produce nutritious foods for six billion people and provide for the livelihoods of one billion people.

“Pathways to Dairy Net Zero will accelerate climate efforts already underway and drive further necessary action to reduce dairy’s emissions over the next decades. The dairy sector has a lot to offer to lead this transition,” said Hein Schumacher, Chief Executive Officer of Royal Friesland Campina and Chairman of Global Dairy Platform.

“Mengniu is proud to join the global dairy sector in uniting behind this effort, the first of its kind in
agriculture, because we must all do our part to meet this worldwide climate challenge,” said Minfang (Jeffrey) Lu, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of China Mengniu Dairy Company.

The initiative is underpinned by six key principles

  1. Mitigation. Continuing to improve production and process efficiency to further reduce the GHG emissions intensity of milk and dairy products.
  2. Greenhouse gas removals. Enhancing production practices that protect carbon sinks (soil, forests, grass, peatlands) and complement natural ecosystems.
  3. Avoidance and adaptation. Improving practices such as feed, manure, fertilizer and energy management.
  4. Insets and offsets. Identify and implement alternative, credible reduction options.
  5. Measurement and monitoring. Measuring greenhouse gas emissions to plan mitigation and monitor progress.
  6. Overall support. Promoting the global initiative and emphasizing the dairy sector’s climate ambition.

Identifying and clarifying plausible mitigation options

A multi-stakeholder group of organizations, including the global dairy sector and representatives from the scientific and research communities, are working together to develop science-based methodologies, tools and pathways that work for every dairy system.

Research is underway to identify where positive climate change action is possible. The study is led by Scotland’s Rural College and the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, research institutions from two of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases’ 65 member countries, backed up by data and analysis from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Initial research found that the dairy sector already has the means to reduce a significant proportion of emissions - up to 40% in some systems - by improving productivity and resource use efficiency.

Researchers are identifying plausible GHG mitigation pathways for different dairy systems globally, in particular methane reduction. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report reaffirmed that the main GHG challenge is the reduction of carbon dioxide, which remains in the atmosphere for centuries. The report also identified reductions in methane, a potent but short-lived climate pollutant that lasts only about 12 years in the atmosphere, as an immediate opportunity to address global warming.



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