Livestock farming received “fair treatment” during negotiations at the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, according to an attendee who represented the dairy industry. Donald Moore from the Global Dairy Platform said discussions about the role that farming can play in combatting climate change, known as the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture, had been ongoing for four years and resulted in a report being published at COP26.
“They saw that safeguarding food and nutritional security was really important and recognised the role that livestock play in that area,” he said during an online event organised by the Dairy Council NI.
Representatives from the livestock sector were also pleased that the Koronivia report did not recommend changing diets away from animal-based foods, even though some campaigners at COP26 were pressing for it.
“That was not accepted by any of the countries and did not make it into the final analysis,” Moore said.
The main focus in the short term appears to be in the fossil fuel industry
A key outcome of the conference was the global methane pledge, which was signed by over 100 countries and commits to a 30% cut in methane emissions by 2030.
“The main focus in the short term appears to be in the fossil fuel industry, but we should expect that some of the potential measures to implement the pledge will cover agricultural production as well,” Moore said.
Maybe the most important thing in the methane pledge is the countries that did not sign on
However, he maintained that the Global Dairy Platform saw this as “a useful lever” to help reduce emissions from farming, and his organisation is already developing strategies for dairying to mitigate climate change.
“Maybe the most important thing in the methane pledge is the countries that did not sign on.
“That includes major emitters like Russia, China and India,” Moore said.
Most dairy emissions come from farms
Most greenhouse gas emissions associated with Glanbia Cheese’s dairy products come from its suppliers’ farms, the results of a carbon footprint audit indicate.
Speaking on the Dairy Council NI webinar, Ben Williams from Glanbia Cheese said the recent exercise involved carbon audits of 60 suppliers located in NI and Wales.
How we can help our supply base lower that carbon footprint is a key action going forward
“We found that 80% of our carbon footprint comes from our milk supply pool. How we can help our supply base lower that carbon footprint is a key action going forward,” he said.
Williams said that the average carbon footprint of milk at the farmgate was 1.21kg of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per litre and it takes “several litres of milk” to produce one kilogram of cheese.
“A small change in the carbon footprint of the milk translates into bigger chunks removed from the carbon footprint of products that we deliver to customers,” he said.
It is something that we do need to do
For dairy processors to cut emissions within their own factories, Ed Wright from Lakeland Dairies maintained that there needs to be full transition away from using fossil fuels to dry milk.
“If we want processors to get to net zero, and it’s not a question of want, we need to, the only way to do that is to de-carbonise the gas grid, be it by biomethane or hydrogen,” he said.
“It is something that we do need to do. We need to get involved with the energy strategies that come out and see how the technologies develop,” Wright added.