Dairy industry urged to share GHG emissions facts ahead of COP26

Dairy industry leaders have urged farmers to get behind a drive to spread accurate facts about Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions ahead of COP26.

The UN Climate Change Conference takes place in Glasgow at the end of this month and runs until November 12.

UK industry body, the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) has pulled together a series of key facts to highlight the reality of the UK dairy industry’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

Matt Knight, RABDF managing director, explained the aim is to help inform the public and dispel many of the myths around the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“It is vitally important we come together as an industry and highlight what the UK dairy’s contribution is to greenhouse gas emissions,” Knight said.

As an industry, we are working so hard to reduce the levels, but often this is pushed back in our face when inaccurate facts are published.

“The dairy sector, along with other areas of agriculture, is often used as a scapegoat when it comes to emissions, with ‘belching’ cows regularly hitting the headlines in the national press.

“We anticipate UK agriculture will come under the spotlight at COP26, so we must be ready to make our story known and shout about the good work we are doing to reduce emissions from what is already quite a low level.”

Dairy GHG emissions facts

  1. Less than 3% of total UK emissions come from UK dairy farming;
  2. 46% of dairy cow emissions – almost half of the emissions coming from the dairy cow are from their digestion – a natural process of ruminants;
  3. It takes 8L of tap water to produce 1L of milk or 158L of tap water to produce 1L of almond drink;
  4. The carbon footprint of a litre of British milk is around 1.25kg CO2e compared to a global average of 2.9kg CO2e per litre;
  5. UK dairy cows are some of the most climate friendly in the world: There are 278 million dairy cows worldwide. If they were all as efficient as UK dairy cows, just 76 million would be needed to produce the same amount of milk.

While the figures issued by the RADBF relate specifically to UK dairy farming, many are similar for the industry in Ireland, which is among the lowest internationally in terms of its carbon footprint.

Knight added: “We want to make it as easy as possible for people to spread the good work of the dairy industry and reinforce the fact dairy products aren’t only good for human health, they are also good for the planet too.”

More information can be found here on the RABDF website.