While oil and gas companies have garnered our attention as to just how much they impact our environment, there’s another sector that has been discussed a lot less often: the dairy industry.
Dairy companies are actually a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, a report released by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) just yesterday finds the thirteen biggest dairy firms emit as much greenhouse gases as the United Kingdom, the sixth biggest economy in the world. That is, the top 13 dairy companies emitted 338 tons of carbon dioxide in 2017 while the UK emits an annual 350 tons.
After the 2015 Paris Agreement, the thirteen firms have had a 13% increase in emissions. And the move to implement emissions reduction plans has been slow or simply nonexistent for these companies.
Tough to scale dairy production back
With the entire world relying on milk, the industry has to continue to meet demand and an achievable price. In fact, the FAO report states over 80% of the world’s population (6 billion people) regularly consume dairy products.
In addition, “[Dairy products] are the fifth largest provider of energy and the third-largest provider of protein and fat for human beings and an important source of affordable nutrition to meet recommended levels,” the report adds.
Sure, reducing dairy firms’ production would decrease emissions, but it would also disrupt a key part of our food supply.
Current system isn’t sustainable — a need for better supply management
While dairy is an integral part of our food supply, the current production of it is not sustainable. As the world population is expected to increase by 2.3 billion in 2050, the sustainability factor in production will be even more crucial.
Changes in countries such as the Netherlands and Israel have increased farm efficiency. For example, Israel uses a breeding technique, artificial insemination, to enable increased milk production. An average Israel cow produces about 3,000 gallons of milk, which is among the highest productions per cow in the world.
Because these countries have already implemented more efficient methods, there’s no reason other dairy companies can’t follow their lead and begin implementing them too.
Jalen Xing is a Writer at theRising and the co-founder of Students For Hospitals. You can pitch him stories at jalen.xing [at] gmail [dot] com.