Calculations for reductions

The Pathways to Dairy Net Zero (P2DNZ) webinar: Research Work Programme, was held on 28 September, and with 140 people registered from around the world, Donald Moore, the executive director of the Global Dairy Platform, opened the session by discussing updates on the P2DNZ. He noted how, “by implementing implement good practice in all dairy systems, the industry might remove around 40 per cent of emissions. There is another 35 per cent reduction globally to be found, if we could scale current technologies to all farms.”

On the P2DNZ, Moore noted that around 80 per cent of emissions are coming from emerging markets, while 20 per cent of GHG emissions come from developed dairy countries.

“Around 10 developing countries represent more than 30 per cent of total dairy emissions, and it’s about how to stimulate the market to develop new technologies in the short term.”

There are four tracks in the regional work being done, he observed: improving methods/frameworks/proof points, accelerated implementation and R&D, pilots and lighthouse projects, policy making and partnerships.

He first looked at carbon accounting. “Most large dairy companies have made emission reduction targets, and Scope 3* emissions account for about 90 per cent of total emissions. When we’re looking at activity on-farm, around 60 to 70 per cent is the methane. We have to be making sure as we move forward that dairy companies/farms/processors are getting recognition for their activity and benefits are being delivered so we can continue to invest in those changes. We are also working very closely with organisations to make sure that the dairy sector needs are met by greenhouse gas protocols.”

He mentioned the establishment of the global dairy processing taskforce led by Tetra Pak. “It’s about looking over the horizon to what we should be doing in the longer term with GHG emissions,” he added.

The third issue is methane, and Moore stated, “We have to develop a science based narrative on dairy and methane emissions and the actions underway. Methane is a potent gas but also a short-lived one. As human race, we can reduce global warming in the short term by reducing methane. Around 60 per cent of it is from fossil fuels, and 40 per cent from agriculture. Dairy accounts for about eight percent. There has been a lot more attention on methane and we need a solid narrative.”

The fourth aspect is animal nutrition, which is launching soon. Activity around methane inhibitors will be a feature.

Moore also cited the progress made in emerging dairy economies, in conjunction with Cornell University. The 10 countries are: Africa – Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda;

South America – Uruguay, Costa Rica, Colombia; and Asia – Pakistan, Vietnam and India (the last in discussion)

The project began in east Africa, as the Global Dairy Platform already had evidence of the impact through its previous pilot, Dairy Nourishes Africa. The latter programme had resulted in a 25 per cent improvement in cow productivity, and a reduction in emission intensity.

There was a submission to the Green Climate Fund by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (, and at the last COP (international climate change conference), US$3.5 million was approved to develop a full-blown proposal to be completed for the end of December 2023. The middle of 2024 will be the date for the final approval, and it will be a combination of public and private finance for those countries.

More recently, the Development Bank of Latin America and the FAO worked together for the Latin American tranche of the programme. In Pakistan, US AID is getting the project underway and meetings are occurring, he noted.

“At the Global Conference on Sustainable Livestock in Rome, we met with a lot of the countries that are part of the Pathways to Dairy Net Zero. It was an opportunity to speak and there was a lot of dairy representation. A lot of others made positive references to dairy. Dairy, like all agricultural commodities, should do more in addressing the natural environment in which we operate,” Moore observed.

The plan is to use the $400 million blended finance money to fund the farm level interventions required. “$100 million per country will just scratch the surface of the transformation. It is about teaching farmers better animal husbandry, the different needs of feed and about the need for the animals to have clean water. Those moves have already led to a 25 per cent improvement in yield per cow, and a reduction in food loss. It is about how to handle the milk, making sure it gets to a collection centre before it sours, and how to improve yields at farm level,” he stated.


Professor Richard Dewhurst, Global Research Alliance (GRA) on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases and head of the Dairy Research Centre at Scotland’s Rural College, gave an update on the research programme for P2DNZ and the GRA’s work.

The GRA knowledge pathway is very consultative, with Fiji most recently joining, and making up 67 countries in total. “We are coming together and developing as we go, and there is lots of expertise from diverse dairy systems. There are over 3,000 scientists engaged with GRA and we are very active in collaborative projects, and in post-graduate projects in low and middle income countries. There are six different networks within the livestock area,” he noted.

The GRA is coordinating another project that the GDP IS supporting, in the area of methane reducing additives. “It is involved in publishing some meta analyses for methane emissions and diet for animals, which is the feed and nutrition network area of the livestock research group of the GRA. There have been several rounds of scholarships for post graduates working in low and middle income countries, with 176 doctoral students awarded since 2017,” Dewhurst said.

“The flagship projects include livestock and crops, and these are very inclusive projects so many countries can participate, and not just the countries with equipment and shiny labs. For example, we are looking at microbial communities in the rumen of cattle in various countries to reduce methane,” he added.

“There are an infinite number of dairy production systems, and we try to classify them with links them to emissions. We also look at barriers to the adoption of mitigation options, estimates of emissions from case studies to global estimates, as well as modelling the effects on global temperature and mitigated scenarios.”

When looking at the case study countries such as Kenya, Uruguay and the UK, they are looking at mitigation options in those countries. “We are trying to come up with estimates, and what are physical barriers to technology uptake. There are lots of things that everyone should be doing, but that’s not always what happens in practice,” he concluded.

Dairy demand

Lastly, Dominik Wisser, livestock policy officer, at the UN FAO, discussed dairy demand projections. “In high income countries, we consume more calories than in low income, but the composition is also much different. There is a much larger share of calories from cereal in lower income countries. In high income countries, it is more from animal products and higher quality protein. This is a very well established relationship.”

He noted it is “important to assess the mitigation efforts against the increase in demand for dairy products. It might be too ambitious to say we can reduce emissions everywhere, but we have to attempt to ensure demand equals production.

“Changes in demand are not significant for all continents and Asia and Africa are relatively small. There are increases in demand, but the bigger driver is population growth. Population is set to be close to 10 billion by 2050, but population growth rates will decline after 2025. China’s population has already peaked. The highest increase rate will be in Africa (78 per cent) and Oceania (31 per cent). The total demand for raw milk would increase from 731 million tonnes in 2020 to 855 million tonnes in 2050, and is now declining in Europe.”


* Scope 1 covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources. Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the purchase and use of electricity, steam, heating and cooling. By using the energy, an organisation is indirectly responsible for the release of these GHG emissions. Scope 3 includes all other indirect emissions that occur in the upstream and downstream activities of an organisation. Source:

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