Pathways to Dairy Net Zero (P2DNZ) has been driving accelerated climate action throughout the global dairy sector since its launch in 2021. Recognizing that positive change isn’t achieved passively, we’ve been developing and embarking on various pathways to progress to help reduce the dairy sector’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while continuing to provide nutritious foods to 6 billion people and support 1 billion livelihoods worldwide. There’s a tremendous opportunity to further accelerate this progress going forward.
P2DNZ is a movement with momentum, and movements require a community of partners to keep driving progress. We’re continuing to amass a global community ready and eager to do just that: drive progress by activating sustainable solutions.
Here’s a quick recap of where we are and where we’re going next, with support from current and future partners.
Launching Toward Worldwide Dairy Sustainability
P2DNZ was started by Global Dairy Platform (GDP), the International Dairy Federation (IDF), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the Dairy Sustainability Framework (DSF), the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform and the IFCN Dairy Research Network (IFCN), and is supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and knowledge partner Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA). The climate effort seeks to systematically introduce or enhance climate action in global dairy systems while fortifying food and nutrition security and bolstering economic growth and dairy-supported livelihoods.
P2DNZ has amassed pledges of support from roughly 200 leading organizations. These include the 10 largest dairy companies in the world alongside many smaller dairy companies, as well as governments and academic institutions. By pledging, these organizations have committed either to take direct action on GHG mitigation as an implementer or to promote its principles as a partner. While P2DNZ doesn’t require partners to make a net-zero commitment, many of these organizations are voluntarily doing so.
6 Principles of Pathways to Dairy Net Zero
- Mitigation: Continue to improve production and process efficiency to further reduce the GHG emissions intensity of milk and dairy products
- GHG Removals: Enhance production practices that protect carbon sinks (soil, forests, grass and peatlands) and complement natural ecosystems
- Avoidance and Adaptation: Improve practices such as feed, manure, fertilizer and energy management
- Insets and Offsets: Identify and implement alternative, credible reduction options
- Measurement and Monitoring: Measure GHG emissions to plan mitigation and monitor progress
- Overall Support: Promote the initiative and emphasize the dairy sector’s climate ambition
Working in tandem with our growing number of partners, we’re happy to report progress across all four of our workstreams: research, accelerating climate action in developed dairy economies, tackling emissions in emerging dairy markets and a new effort targeting dairy processing.
P2DNZ has a robust research program, led by GRA with support from FAO, that is working to identify practical pathways for dairy systems worldwide. This includes defining six primary dairy production systems throughout the world — high-input, high-output; medium-scale specialized; pasture-fed; smallholder specialized; smallholder dual-purpose; pastoral and agropastoral — along with potential mitigation options, such as methane-inhibiting feed additive and carbon sequestration, and their estimated impact on emissions reduction. The research team is modeling the impact of cumulative emissions for each GHG on global warming. Because each gas has a unique effect on and longevity in the atmosphere, this work is crucial to developing strategic pathways forward.
Between the adoption of current best practices, scaling emerging technologies and developing new innovations, there’s a pathway to net zero for the dairy sector.
From 100 to ZERO
- 100% – Current global dairy greenhouse gas emissions (representing 2.5% of global emissions)
- – 40% – By adopting current best practices
- – 35% – By scaling existing and emerging technologies
- – 25% – By embracing solutions in development
- = 0% – Global dairy GHG emissions achieve net zero
Developed Dairy Economies
In many developed markets, the dairy sector is already making great strides in sustainability. There are four primary focus areas for P2DNZ in these countries:
- Methods/Frameworks/Proof Points
- Relates to: Carbon credits, measuring emissions, carbon sequestrations, mitigation protocols, etc.
- Accelerated Implementation and R&D
- Relates to: Carbon capture and storage, reducing enteric emissions and manure emissions, becoming fossil fuel-free and implementing new technologies
- Policymaking and Partnerships
- Relates to: Making sure nutrition is included in sustainability discussions and ensuring dairy receives recognition for the improvements that are underway
- Pilots/Lighthouse Projects
- Relates to: Determining routes to develop and expand adoption of new sustainability solutions
In addition, P2DNZ and these developed dairy economies have agreed on the following future-forward collaborative actions:
- Carbon Accounting: Global Dairy Platform Executive Director Donald Moore has cited “some gaps, some overlaps in terms of the protocols, [that] we as a dairy sector need to engage in discussions to resolve.” To address this, P2DNZ is working with Science Based Targets and Greenhouse Gas Protocol to ensure the dairy sector is recognized for its emissions reduction efforts.
- Dairy Processing: This action is the result of a driving question: In Moore’s words, “How can we as a dairy sector come together to look at the latest technologies and make advances in dairy processing to tackle emissions in the scope, or one area, of most dairy companies?”2 The answer is proving to be a new collaboration with Tetra Pak to create a dairy processing task force to investigate the latest advances in dairy processing technologies to reduce GHG emissions.
- Dairy’s Methane Narrative: According to Moore, “There is so much attention being paid to methane at the moment that we really need to make sure we have a good, solid narrative for the work we’re doing.”2 P2DNZ is working with global experts to identify and unify a shared narrative regarding dairy’s present and ideal future impact on methane emissions.
Working with Global Methane Pledge and FAO, P2DNZ identified 10 emerging dairy countries to approach about becoming early adopters of the initiative. These countries collectively represent more than 30% of the dairy sector’s global GHG emissions. The U.S. Department of State sent formal invitations to the governments of these countries, and nine of them — Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Colombia, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Pakistan and Vietnam — have already accepted.
P2DNZ was highlighted at Climate Week 2022 and was featured in more than a dozen events at COP27, including a side event titled “The Global Dairy Sector’s Climate Ambition and Progress Towards Achievement of the Paris Agreement.” At COP27, P2DNZ received $3.5 million in funding from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) in partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), FAO and GDP to support development of a regional public-private livestock sector program for Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
P2DNZ has made particularly notable progress in Tanzania via Dairy Nourishes Africa (), a model for how P2DNZ can deliver results in other emerging dairy economies and across the world. Scaling work as part of a three-year Tanzania Inclusive Processor-Producer Partnerships in Dairy Program, DNA’s pilots in Tanzania — involving two processors and more than 800 farmers — have so far increased average milk production by 25% per cow per day and increased farmer incomes by 29%. Due to the intensification of milk production, there has also been an 18% reduction in on-farm GHG emissions intensity. These production improvements have led to revenue growth throughout Tanzania’s dairy value chain, which has likewise led to increased investment by small and medium-sized enterprises in extension services and market development. Additionally, school milk programs have been established in eight schools to date.
New Dairy Processing Initiative
A new workstream is underway to reduce emissions in the dairy processing sector. The initiative, which is being sponsored and led by Tetra Pak, was introduced during a webinar on June 15, 2023, entitled “Latest Advances in Dairy Processing Technologies to Tackle GHG Emissions.”
A dairy processing task force is being assembled to address the challenges and recommend potential approaches on a pre-competitive basis. If you are interested in joining this task force, contact Info@GlobalDairyPlatform.com to sign up or for more information.
Continuing Our Progress
P2DNZ is working toward creating a more sustainable future for us all. Join the movement by signing the Pathways to Dairy Net Zero Declaration. Work in the dairy processing sector? Consider joining our Dairy Processing Task Force — just send an email to Info@GlobalDairyPlatform.com
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and Global Dairy Platform Inc. “Climate Change and the Global Dairy Cattle Sector: The Role of the Dairy Sector in a Low-Carbon Future.” Published 2019. Accessed 6.15.2023.
Global Dairy Platform. “Latest Advances in Dairy Processing Technologies to Tackle GHG Emissions.” Published 6.15.2023. Accessed 6.15.2023.