Fast Facts

Raise a glass to dairy emissions intensity progress

milk man agriculture stock image

New analysis shows that dairy farmers around the world are making significant progress lowering the greenhouse gas emission intensity of milk production, Federated Farmers climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“It’s clear that while New Zealand dairy farmers must continue their ongoing efforts to boost productivity and reduce their environmental footprint, on the global emissions and food security front the best thing we can do is to help dairy farmers in developing nations get to where we already are,” says Andrew, who owns and runs a dairy farm in the Manawatu.

Analysis from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), presented to delegates to the COP24 climate change negotiations in Poland, show that between 2005 and 2015 there was a 30% jump in global milk production. This is from a 14% increase in the number of dairy cows, but also a 15% improvement in yield per cow (now 2,514 litres/cow per lactation).

The figures, from a study commissioned from the Dairy Sustainability Framework, show that while total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the dairy sector rose about 18% during the decade to 2015, emission intensity per kilogram of product dropped 11%, from 2.8 to 2.5kg of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Without these efficiency improvements made by the sector, total emissions would have increased by almost 38% to deliver the same amount of milk.

“We need to keep in mind that as well as climate change pressures, we have an equally pressing need to feed a world population predicted to increase by another 2.7 billion people by 2050. For billions of people around the world, milk and cheese is an affordable, accessible and nutrient-rich food supplying energy, protein and a range of micro-nutrients,” Andrew says.

“In terms of GHG emissions, the production efficiency of New Zealand dairy farmers is one-third to one-half better than that achieved in many other countries.

“Combatting global warming is a planet-wide mission.

“We’ll strive for more gains in our own dairy sector, but the real difference we could make is helping some other nations with their production efficiency, including sharing the knowledge we gain from the world-leading Kiwi scientists and researchers working on these thorny global warming and climate change issues.”

Source: Federated Farmers

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