By Amanda Leland, Executive Director

Did you know that cows — or, more specifically, methane from cow burps and cow manure — play a significant role in climate change? 

Six global food companies stepped forward at the United Nations climate conference to announce a powerful alliance to help dairy farmers reduce methane emissions and make farming more sustainable.

Farmer taking noted around a cow stable.

Methane is a big deal. In fact, methane pollution from all sources in 2023 will cause more warming in the decade ahead than all the carbon dioxide from fossil fuels burned this year. That’s why cutting methane emissions is the fastest way to fight climate change.

Industry leaders the Bel Group, Danone, General Mills, Kraft Heinz, Lactalis USA, and Nestlé joined with Environmental Defense Fund today to announce the launch of the Dairy Methane Action Alliance, a historic alliance of global food companies committing to help reduce and account for the methane emissions in their dairy supply chains.

These founding signatories to the DMAA represent major players in the global food industry. These companies will transparently account for and publicly disclose the total methane emissions associated with their dairy supply chains. They also each pledge to create a public methane action plan by the end of 2024 to drive down methane emissions in their dairy supply chains.

A groundbreaking first step

This alliance represents a groundbreaking first step, setting a new model for transparency, participation and emissions reduction in the food sector. With Environmental Defense Fund leading the effort and providing support for farmers and companies — as well as cutting-edge research on innovative solutions such as changing cows’ diets and improving how manure is managed — the Dairy Methane Action Alliance is poised to make a global impact.

The Bel Group, Danone, General Mills, Kraft Heinz, Lactalis USA, and Nestlé represent over $200 billion in global sales and provide an example for the rest of the industry to follow, as other leaders join the alliance. We’re extending an open invitation to everyone in the dairy sector to join us, and deliver even larger action at scale.

Why methane matters

Methane can trap 80 times as much heat as carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after its release into the atmosphere. Although it has an outsized impact on warming, methane only remains in the atmosphere for a relatively short number of years — compared with centuries for carbon dioxide.

That’s why reducing methane is the fastest way to slow global warming in our lifetimes, helping farmers, farming and communities the world over – not to mention cows, who also suffer in a warming climate.

Of all the methane emissions caused by humans, around 40% comes from agriculture, much of that from dairy. Actions by dairy companies and farmers to reduce methane emissions will have a dual return on investment, both by helping ensure more durable dairy supply chains and by protecting farms and farmland from the worst impacts of climate change.

Supporting our farmers

Supporting our farmers is key, particularly as dairy farmers are at the frontlines of a hotter planet. The agriculture industry is responsible for feeding a growing global population, and it provides livelihoods and a way of life for more than a billion farmers and other food sector workers and their families around the world.

We must act quickly and decisively to help the food and agriculture sector embrace these climate solutions. Coordinated efforts like the Dairy Methane Action Alliance can secure a triple win for farmers’ livelihoods, food security and the climate. These actions will strengthen supply chain durability and enhance business resilience for farmers, ranchers, companies and consumers.

Dairy companies, join us today

The Bel Group, Danone, General Mills, Kraft Heinz, Lactalis USA, and Nestlé have set an incredible example for other leading dairy businesses to follow. Together, they can chart a new course for leadership, action, and accountability in the dairy supply chain.

As a key part of Environmental Defense Fund’s engagement with the global dairy sector, we will share with every company that signs on to this alliance the knowledge, best practices, emerging innovations and novel financial solutions for farmers that we develop together.

Be a climate leader. Sign on to the Dairy Methane Action Alliance today.