Major dairy companies sign up for methane alliance at COP28

Six of the largest names in the sector have pledged to begin disclosing emissions of the gas, which is believed to be responsible for around one-third of global warming to date. 

white and black cow on green grass field during daytime

Around 30% of methane emitted into the atmosphere comes directly from livestock, whether that’s cows breaking wind or the use of manure. Up until today, conversations around controlling the greenhouse gas have focused on its production within the oil and gas industries, rather than the increasingly pressing need to better regulate agriculture and food sectors. 

Danone, Bel Group, General Mills, Lactalis USA, Kraft Heinz, and Nestle have all agreed to begin reporting methane emissions by 2024. Each company will now develop a methane action plan, due by the end of next year, which will lay out how emissions of this type will be reduced in the short and medium-term future. 

‘While oil and gas have taken the spotlight in discussions so far, farming is also a major contributor, accounting for a third (32%) of human-caused methane emissions and 14% of all greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions primarily come from cattle. However, to date, there has been little incentive for farmers to take action,’ said Alastair Collier, Founder and Chief R&D Officer at climate tech firm A Healthier Earth. ‘Instead, the investment focus remains on CO2 reduction, due to the increasingly competitive and attractive international carbon market. But, with methane such a rapid driver of rising temperatures, this must change. The carbon market must be expanded to include methane too.

‘For this to happen, investment needs to be attracted with scalable and practical agricultural solutions that can make quantifiable methane reductions. Thankfully, one already exists,’ he continued. ‘Biochar is a form of charcoal that’s created in a process called ‘pyrolysis’ when organic materials – like biomass waste – are heated in the absence of oxygen. It is more commonly used as a soil additive. However, biochar can also be added to livestock feed to improve animal health by increasing nutrient intake and decreasing the methane emissions caused by ruminant digestion. Solutions like this will be significant in shifting the dial on methane and attracting investment to incentivise farmers.’

More on methane: 

Does Britain really want carbon footprint food labelling?

‘Clean energy’ methane laws alarm activists

New Zealand proposes pioneering scheme to make farmers pay for emissions

Image: Jakob Cotton


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