Pathways to Dairy Net Zero, a ground-breaking new climate initiative, is Sept. 22 during Climate Week and just prior to the United Nations (UN) Food Systems Summit. Forty leading organizations, including 11 of the 20 largest dairy companies in the world, already declared their support for the effort, according to the Global Dairy Platform, Rosemont, Ill. Collectively, these supporters represent approximately 30% of total milk production worldwide.

The new climate initiative demonstrates the global dairy sector’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while continuing to produce nutritious foods for 6 billion people and provide for the livelihoods of one billion people.  

“Pathways to Dairy Net Zero will accelerate climate efforts already underway and drive further necessary action to reduce dairy’s emissions over the next decades. The dairy sector has a lot to offer to lead this transition,” said Hein Schumacher, CEO of Royal FrieslandCampina and chairman of Global Dairy Platform.

The Global Dairy Platform, said the initiative is underpinned by six key principles:

  • Mitigation. Continuing to improve production and process efficiency to further reduce the GHG emissions intensity of milk and dairy products.
  • Greenhouse gas removals. Enhancing production practices that protect carbon sinks (soil, forests, grass, peatlands) and complement natural ecosystems.
  • Avoidance and adaptation. Improving practices such as feed, manure, fertilizer and energy management.
  • Insets and offsets. Identifying and implementing alternative, credible reduction options.
  • Measurement and monitoring. Measuring GHG emissions to plan mitigation and monitoring progress.
  • Overall support. Promoting the global initiative and emphasizing the dairy sector’s climate ambition.

A multi-stakeholder group of organizations, including the global dairy sector and representatives from the scientific and research communities, are working together to develop science-based methodologies, tools and pathways that work for every dairy system, the Global Dairy Platform said.

Research is underway to identify where positive climate change action is possible. The study is led by Scotland’s Rural College and the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, research institutions from two of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases’ 65 member countries, backed up by data and analysis from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Initial research found that the dairy sector already has the means to reduce a significant proportion of emissions — up to 40% in some systems — by improving productivity and resource use efficiency, the Global Dairy Platform said.

Researchers are identifying plausible GHG mitigation pathways for different dairy systems globally, in particular methane reduction. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report reaffirmed that the main GHG challenge is the reduction of carbon dioxide, which remains in the atmosphere for centuries. The report also identified reductions in methane, a potent but short-lived climate pollutant that lasts only about 12 years in the atmosphere, as an immediate opportunity to address global warming, the Global Dairy Platform said.

The list of supporting companies and organizations so far includes Nestlé, Dairy Farmers of America, Danone, Fonterra Co-operative Group, Royal FrieslandCampina, Arla Foods, China Mengniu Dairy Company, Saputo, Meiji Holdings, Savencia Fromage & Dairy, Agropur Dairy Cooperative, Ace Farming Company, Agri Networking Tools, Australian Dairy Products Federation, Brazzale, Dairy Australia, Dairy Connect, Dairy Farmers of Canada, Dairy Management Inc., Dairy UK, Dutch Dairy Association, First Milk, FOSS Analytics, Glanbia, Granja Tepeyac, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, International Dairy Foods Association, La Vida Lactea, Land O’Lakes, Lekhanath Dairy International, Leprino Foods Co., Livestock Improvement Corporation, Megmilk Snow Brand, Morinaga Milk Industry, National Dairy Development Board (India), National Milk Producers Federation (United States), Palmhouse Dairies, Pioneer Natural Capital, Royal DSM and U.S. Dairy Export Council.

For more information or to join Pathways to Dairy Net Zero, visit: