The continued release of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere is exacerbating climate change. Global and domestic efforts to reduce GHG emissions are ramping up, as more economies are moving quickly towards a low-carbon future.
At the same time, the loss of GHG emissions represent an inefficiency in dairy systems. The loss of methane and nitrous oxide gases into the atmosphere means that energy and nitrogen that could be directed towards production are being lost. Some level of emissions is expected, but there are many opportunities within a typical dairy system to reduce greenhouse gases and achieve efficiency and profitability gains.
Although the carbon footprint of Australian dairying is one of the lowest internationally, there is still scope to improve efficiency. The Australian dairy industry has made a commitment to minimising its environmental footprint, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 30% by 2030.
This is why the second of Dairy Australia's Climate Commitments is to Preserve Australia's position in the Top 10 globally for low emissions intensity.
There is opportunity for the dairy industry – and the wider livestock sector of which it is a part of – to demonstrate its track record in addressing climate change and promote its commitments to being part of the solution to reduce GHG emissions on-farm.
Many technical options to reduce emissions exist, including feed supplements and feed management, grazing land and manure management, health management and improved animal husbandry practices. These are documented below.
The first step towards reducing emissions is understanding the source of emissions on-farm and then highlighting the most effective options for reducing them.
Dairy Australia active projects - Preserve
- Dairy Sustainability Framework - emissions intensity reduction target tracking (ongoing)
- DairyBase Carbon Calculator - data collection and tool (ongoing)
- Extension modules for emissions reduction and energy efficiency (available late 2021)
For more on our current investments in this area see the Climate Change Strategy - Investment Summary (2021).