COP26: UK Dairy Roadmap sets net zero climate targets

New climate targets have been set to drive emissions reductions in the UK dairy sector.

The UK Dairy Roadmap, a cross-industry body with representatives including Dairy UK, the NFU and AHDB, says its new initiative sets a minimum standard for improvement across the entire industry, across different farm systems and types, and dairy processing plants.

See also: Dairy farm works with neighbours to cut costs and emissions

In its paper, The Dairy Roadmap Climate Ambition: Supporting UK Net-Zero, published on Monday (1 November), it sets out a strategy for the industry to reach “at least” net zero on carbon by 2050 and initiate actions to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions by developing best practice and guidance on how this can be done at a farm level.

Targets will be guided by “scientifically robust and evidence-led” research, the paper pledges.

By modelling the changes needed across a range of dairy systems and farm types, it aims to identify the key drivers and barriers to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within the sector and practices, and strategies and other innovations that could support a long-term reduction.

A series of dairy sector key performance indicators (KPIs) linked to GHG emissions will be developed, to allow farmers and processors to understand, measure and benchmark factors that are linked to their environmental and carbon footprint.

The effect of the changes on different dairy farming systems will also be investigated; the paper recognises that not every farm or company within the UK dairy sector may be able to achieve net zero.

Farmer action

NFU dairy board chairman Michael Oakes said UK dairy farmers were already addressing climate change by improving productivity, using nutrients efficiently and generating energy through solar panels and anaerobic digesters.

But the industry was now committing to do more, he added.

“Our commitment to science-based targets and a recognition of the role of methane is an important step in cementing the sustainability of dairy for the long term.”

The UK Dairy Roadmap working groups include farmers, processors, retailers, data companies, academics and trade associations.

Explore more / Transition

This article forms part of Farmers Weekly’s Transition series, which looks at how farmers can make their businesses more financially and environmentally sustainable.

During the series we follow our group of 16 Transition Farmers through the challenges and opportunities as they seek to improve their farm businesses.

Transition is an independent editorial initiative supported by our UK-wide network of partners, who have made it possible to bring you this series.

Visit the Transition content hub to find out more.