Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Dairy Value Chain: Multiple Layers of Complexity

The dairy industry is facing increasing demand for sustainable milk production and emissions reduction. Despite differences in farming systems, most greenhouse gas emissions originate on the farm. These emissions are categorized as direct, scope 1 emissions for farmers, but they also contribute to the scope 3 emissions of the dairy processors and retailers who purchase milk.

As various stakeholders focus on farm-level emissions from dairy, measuring and reducing these emissions can be complex and is frequently complicated by misalignment between national government and industry targets. Despite these inconsistencies, companies are taking action to reduce their emissions while the industry deploys numerous strategies to reach targets. While these levers have strong mitigation potential, there are still limitations, such as adoption rates and commercialization.

To increase the momentum of emissions reduction in the dairy industry, three important steps need to be taken: 1) alignment between government and industry targets to overcome (sometimes unnecessary) layers of complexity, 2) industry acceptance of the need to accelerate emissions reduction and prepare for this transition, and 3) industry and government incentives to increase adoption rates of on-farm mitigation levers among farmers.