Monday, June 15, 2020

Dairy and Climate Change

The biggest dairy companies in the world have the same combined greenhouse gas emissions as the UK, the sixth biggest economy in the world, according to a new report. The analysis shows the impact of the 13 firms on the climate crisis is growing, with an 11% increase in emissions in the two years after the 2015 Paris climate change agreement. Research shows all plant-based milks, such as soya and oat, result in far fewer emissions than dairy milk.

The report, by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) in the US, also says the growth of giant dairy companies has helped force milk prices below the cost of production for the last decade, causing a crisis in rural livelihoods and requiring taxpayer subsidies to keep farmers afloat. The researchers say caps on production should be reintroduced to protect both the climate and small farmers.

The IATP report found emissions from the big companies rose from 306m tonnes of CO2-equivalent in 2015 to 338m tonnes in 2017. The UK’s annual emissions are 350m tonnes a year.

A 2019 joint report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Global Dairy Platform said: “In order to limit temperature rise, the dairy sector must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and work towards a low-carbon future … There is a clear case for immediate and more ambitious action.”

It said: “The [dairy] sector’s emissions have increased by 18% between 2005 and 2015 because overall milk production has grown substantially by 30%. The good news is that there are many opportunities within the sector to limit climate change by reducing emissions. While there is some uncertainty about the size and timing of changes, it is certain that it is happening.” The report did not consider reducing production.

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