Danone has thrown down a methane challenge

30 Jan 2023 Letter

From Nusa Urbancic, Changing Markets Foundation

Published on 30 January 2023 in the Financial Times: https://www.ft.com/content/fbf90623-a5df-480b-8b48-c1ce06b216c3

Danone became the first dairy company to announce its commitments to cut methane — a move that was rightly welcomed by the FT (“Danone: chewing over emissions”, Lex, January 21).

But the French dairy group is in fact an outlier in a sector that has been painfully slow to tackle its methane footprint. There is little pressure from governments — agricultural emissions are an afterthought in climate policy even though the food sector is responsible for over 40 per cent of global methane emissions.

This must change. The global methane pledge — a commitment by over 150 governments to cut methane by 30 per cent compared to the 2020 baseline — will be difficult to deliver in the rich world without tackling agriculture.

Our research shows that the EU is on track for a mere 17 per cent methane reduction by 2030, because of its failure to get to grips with emissions from the meat and dairy sector.

Yet there are ample opportunities for significant reductions — up to 67 per cent — if there is the political will to act. While there seems to be a scientific consensus that we should all consume less meat and dairy, the money is going in the opposite direction: the EU alone spent €143m promoting the consumption of meat products over the past five years. Using this money to promote healthier diets could be a first step to start reducing the EU’s methane footprint.

As would requiring companies such as Nestlé and JBS Foods to follow Danone’s lead and the recommendations of the UN report on net zero commitments — by reporting their methane emissions and publishing binding climate plans.

Nusa Urbancic Changing Markets Foundation, London EC2, UK

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