Dairy giant Danone pledges to reduce planet-warming methane

Cattle farming is a major driver of methane emissions, as cows expel methane by belching and farting

Cattle farming is a major driver of methane emissions, as cows expel methane by belching and farting.

French food giant Danone said on Tuesday it would cut global-warming methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030, and pledged to transform the way the cows it uses are raised and milked.

Methane is responsible for nearly 30 percent of the global temperature rise so far. It is released from the oil, gas, waste and agricultural sectors as well as through natural processes.

Cattle ranching is a major driver because cows expel methane by burping. Their dung also releases harmful gases. Agriculture and livestock generate about 40 percent of the methane associated with human activities, with the remainder coming mainly from the gas sector.

Danone said on Tuesday it will seek to reduce methane emissions by using cow breeds that emit less methane, improving the diets of cows, extending milking periods and capturing emissions from manure for use in biogas, for example.

“We’ll see how we can improve practices in general on farms,” ​​spokeswoman Janet Coombes-Lnotte told AFP.

It said it would cut emissions by 30 percent by the end of the decade compared to 2020 levels.

Target includes all fresh dairy products, such as yogurt, made with milk that Danone buys directly from 58,000 dairy farms in 20 countries. The company’s milk production accounts for 70 percent of the company’s methane emissions.

It does not contain the powder formulation that you buy from third party brokers.

Danone says it has already reduced methane emissions by “14 percent” between 2018 and 2020, and that methane emissions account for about a quarter of its carbon footprint.

In Morocco, where the group collects milk from small farmers, “there is a lot of progress that can be made by improving production,” says Combs-Lanotte.

Increasing milk production per cow, for example, could allow farmers to reduce the size of their herd while maintaining production, thus reducing methane emissions.

The company is also looking at innovative solutions to help reduce emissions, for example by means of a face mask that can trap belching gas, or by changing diets to include algae additives.

The United Nations Environment Program said in its 2021 report that technological solutions have limited potential to significantly reduce emissions from the agricultural sector.

She said behavioral changes – namely better livestock management and reduced meat and dairy production and consumption – were necessary to reduce methane emissions.

More than 100 countries agreed in 2021 under the Global Methane Pledge to cut emissions by 30 percent by 2030, led by the United States and the European Union.

But many major methane emitters – including China, Russia, Iran and India – have not signed up to it.

© 2023 AFP

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