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Danone to Reduce Methane Emissions

A cow licking its nose against a blue sky backdrop
Author: Samuel Beckingham
Updated: Jul 12, 2023
3 minutes read

Even though the world has been focused on the reduction in carbon dioxide, methane is much worse in the short term at warming the Earth. Animal agricultural purposes produce the most amount of methane, second only to fossil fuels. With this in mind, the massive dairy company Danone has set a goal to reduce its methane emissions in order to help limit greenhouse gases in the immediate future.

In a first of its kind, Danone has announced a target of 30% reduction in methane emissions from the production of fresh milk used in its products at a global level. This is in line with the Global Methane Pledge. To help speed things along, the company has set up a partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund. It’s hoped that the company will reach this goal by 2030.

In the next seven years, Danone is expects to remove 1.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent of methane emissions. While 30% sounds like an impressive goal, the company is actually accelerating its efforts on its 14% goal it had between 2018 and 2020.

Reducing methane will have an immediate effect on the climate, completely separate from the effects of carbon dioxide. Data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has shown that dairy production from cattle contributes to around 8% of the methane emissions caused by humans. Wider agriculture and livestock activities make up 40% of global methane emissions.

COP26 introduced the Global Methane Pledge in November 2021, which is part of the worldwide goal of keeping warming below 1.5°C. Methane is much faster acting than carbon dioxide and accounts for around half of the net rise in global temperatures since pre-industrial times. If any long term goals are to be reached, methane emissions need to be reduced rapidly.

Over 100 countries are part of the pledge, which almost accounts for 50% of global methane emissions. Danone is doing its part, but all parties are expected to prevent over 8 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent from reaching the atmosphere by 2030. Anyone involved in the pledge is expected to take voluntary actions to reduce global methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030.

While methane contributes to heating in the short term, it only lasts around 12 years in the atmosphere, which is much shorter than the 1,000 years of carbon. Countries around the globe are already reducing their carbon outputs, but limiting the amount of methane in the atmosphere is useful to prevent tipping points where global temperatures will run away with themselves.

Households can do their part to reduce methane emissions by making use of food waste bins, where provided by their local authority. When food waste goes into landfill, air cannot break it down, which produces methane. Being creative with leftovers can prevent this from happening. If this isn’t an option, a home compost bin can make a big difference. The ShareWaste website and app is a good way of responsibly getting rid of food waste. It connects you to local people who can repurpose leftovers for their compost heaps or as food for pets.