Leadership in Action: Global Food Corporations and Environmental Defense Fund Unite to Tackle Dairy Methane Emissions

EDF convenes group of global food companies to report methane emissions and create action plans to drive reductions

December 5, 2023
Nika Beauchamp, +1 (617) 448-3883, nbeauchamp@edf.org

(DUBAI — Dec. 5, 2023) – Today, a historic group of global food companies, led by the Bel Group, Danone, General Mills, Kraft Heinz, Lactalis USA (a U.S. affiliate of Lactalis Group), and Nestlé was convened by Environmental Defense Fund to launch the Dairy Methane Action Alliance (DMAA). The Alliance was announced on stage at a COP Presidency event with company representatives and EDF president Fred Krupp. These leading food companies together represent more than $200 billion in revenue.

A potent greenhouse gas, methane has 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide in the first twenty years after it enters the atmosphere. Agriculture is responsible for nearly 40% of human-caused methane emissions, the majority of which comes from livestock. Collective action on methane today will avoid the worst impacts of climate change–and we’ll see the difference in our lifetimes. These corporations have stepped forward to set a new standard for accountability, transparency, and ambitious climate action within the food industry. 

By joining this groundbreaking initiative, these companies are the first to commit to annually account and publicly disclose methane emissions within their dairy supply chains, and they are each pledging to create and implement a comprehensive methane action plan.

The Bel Group, Danone, General Mills, Kraft Heinz, Lactalis USA, and Nestlé have established their leadership as the founding signatories to this initiative, and now EDF is calling on all companies in the global dairy supply chain to join this effort to expedite a global shift to climate-smart dairy–and deliver larger impact and scale. 

“Transforming how we produce food is essential to stabilizing the climate. We also need to support farmers as they work to feed the world in the face of climate change,” said Fred Krupp, president, Environmental Defense Fund. “Dairy companies can be part of the fight against climate change by reducing methane pollution. This is an exciting step forward in putting methane action front and center for the dairy sector."

"Together we can support farm economies, enhance global nutrition access, and make supply chains more resilient. This historic group represents the leadership we need not just from dairy companies, but from food producers everywhere. Now, the hard work begins to put words into action to meet these milestones—and it’s time for others in the dairy industry to join us,” Krupp continued.

“The Bel Group is committed to contribute to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement by limiting global warming to below +1.5°C. To do so, we are convinced that we need to collaborate side by side with our key partners, the farmers, in order to reduce by 25% greenhouse gases coming from dairy farms by 2035, especially by methane mitigation. We can accelerate and be more efficient by working with the whole dairy ecosystem. This is the purpose of the Dairy Methane Action Alliance: Gather all dairy players and partners to work collectively by setting the base and accelerating on methane mitigation journey. We are thrilled to be a co-founding member of this Alliance, to position the dairy sector as part of the solution to fight against climate change while giving access to nutritious, responsible and affordable food for all,” said Simon Bonnet, Sustainable Milk Purchasing Director for the Bel Group.

“As a leading dairy company, Danone is committed to reduce methane emissions from fresh milk 30% by 2030, and to elevate the role of dairy as a solution for health, nature and communities,” said Henri Bruxelles, Chief Sustainability and Strategic Business Development Officer at Danone. “We are convinced that we can deliver on this ambition by working with other dairy players and partners to set the bar high, develop tools and scale best practices. This is what the Dairy Methane Action Alliance is about. We are thrilled to be a co-founding member of this Alliance, which is a powerful signal of how the dairy sector can collectively tackle the challenge of climate change while strengthening livelihoods and resilience, and providing nutritious food.”

“As a global company with a heritage in agriculture, we at Kraft Heinz have a responsibility to focus on reducing emissions in areas most material to our business, specifically those that have the biggest heating impact like methane,” said David Shaw, International Director of ESG at Kraft Heinz. “Some of our most beloved brands are cheese brands, emphasizing that responsibility, as we aim for net zero emissions by 2050. We anticipate the progress that we’ll be able to make alongside Environmental Defense Fund and other leading companies to mitigate the climate impacts while preserving the legacy of our brands for generations to come.”

“Time is of the essence when it comes to helping farmers adapt to and mitigate climate change. DMAA provides a forum for collaboration among processors, farmers, and researchers where we can identify and elevate the best solutions to accelerate progress on reducing methane emissions, one of the most potent climate pollutants,” said Rolf Carlson, Vice President Corporate Social Responsibility, Lactalis USA.

Antonia Wanner, Global Head of ESG Operations and Deployment at Nestlé, said, “Nestlé’s net zero roadmap tackles all types of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane. We are working with farmers and our suppliers to find practical and affordable ways to take action now. By joining DMAA, we hope to encourage broader industry cooperation on this important agenda, sharing our insights and learning from others as we make progress towards our goals.” 

“The global dairy sector is strongly committed to climate action, as expressed in the Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam signed in 2016 by the International Dairy Federation (IDF) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), as well as shown by the significant support to the Pathways to Dairy Net Zero initiative. Reducing methane emissions is part of the climate actions undertaken by the global dairy sector. IDF welcomes today’s launch of the Dairy Methane Action Alliance as a collaborative action agenda to raise methane ambition and collectively accelerate methane reduction. DMAA is a good example of how, with its dynamic nature, forward thinking and collective action, the sector will be able to address the triple challenge of providing food security, livelihoods, and environmental sustainability in a rapidly changing world,” said Caroline Emond, IDF Director General.

The majority of food companies' methane emissions are from livestock, with dairy responsible for nearly 10% of global methane emissions, uniquely positioning companies that source dairy to make a profound impact on global emissions by addressing methane within their supply chains.

Simultaneously, the agricultural industry keeps the world fed and an estimated one billion people globally depend on the dairy sector for providing some portion of their livelihood. The sector is also on the frontlines of climate impacts that make it harder to produce food. Pursuing ambitious climate action in the dairy sector will result in a triple win, benefiting farmers' livelihoods, food security, and the climate.

The Dairy Methane Action Alliance promises not only to expedite climate action in the dairy industry but also sets an example for the private sector as a whole by providing a novel model for transparency, accountability, and collaboration to reduce critical emissions within a global industry. 

Environmental Defense Fund is taking the lead in convening the Dairy Methane Action Alliance and is offering companies technical support and best practices for accounting and disclosure and access to cutting-edge research and emerging solutions. 

The sustainability nonprofit Ceres will provide technical guidance support and lead the  development of a methane action plan template that aligns with investor and corporate expectations as well as helping to ensure companies are making progress against key plan milestones. 

“Through our investor-led Food Emissions 50 initiative and beyond, Ceres has been supporting food companies to develop effective transition action plans and holding them accountable for their actions,” said Meryl Richards, Program Director, Food and Forests at Ceres. “Given the agricultural sector’s huge contribution to the climate crisis, we are pleased to partner with the Dairy Methane Action Alliance and encourage companies to take needed action on reducing a major source of their emissions by adopting and advancing practices toward a more sustainable food system and low carbon economy.” 

This launch is only the first step. We call upon dairy companies to join us and lead the global food industry in addressing methane emissions by signing onto the Dairy Methane Action Alliance today.

For more information about the Dairy Methane Action Alliance and how to get involved, please visit business.edf.org/dmaa.

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One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org) creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund