Dairy Methane Action Alliance: What’s Coming in 2024

By Vrashabh Kapate

Editor’s note: On April 24, 2024, Clover Sonoma and Starbucks joined the Dairy Methane Action Alliance.

Led by food and dairy giants the Bel Group, Danone, General Mills, Kraft Heinz, Lactalis USA, and Nestlé, as well as the Environmental Defense Fund, the Dairy Methane Action Alliance (DMAA) launched at COP28 last week in a COP Presidency event–to great global attention. 

These leading food companies together represent more than $200 billion in revenue. With these companies’ global reach and supply chains, their commitment to DMAA is a massive step forward on climate action for the industry. 

What is the Dairy Methane Action Alliance? 

The Dairy Methane Action Alliance is an unprecedented commitment by global food companies to act on methane emissions in their dairy supply chains.  

By joining this groundbreaking initiative, by the end of 2024 these signatory companies commit to two milestones:  

  1. Transparently and annually account for and publicly disclose methane emissions from their dairy supply chains. 
  2. Create and implement a methane action and transition plan to drive down methane emissions across each company’s respective supply chain. 

This will create action and transparency from the sector on the most critical climate challenge facing the dairy industry.  

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) 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.  

Why Methane Matters—for the Dairy Sector and for the Climate 

A potent greenhouse gas, methane has 80 times the warming potential 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.  

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. 

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 transparency and ambitious climate action within the food industry.  

What Will the Dairy Methane Action Alliance Do in 2024? 

Now, it’s time for follow-through. 

1. Technical Guidance  

Many food and agriculture companies have already taken the important step of setting science-based targets to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and created a greenhouse-gas (GHG) inventory.  

In the first quarter of 2024, EDF will work on creating guidance that will help DMAA signatories to  break out methane emissions from their existing corporate GHG inventories.  

Next, the sustainability nonprofit Ceres will provide technical guidance support to spur greater action on methane across the dairy sector by co-creating templates for a methane action and transition plan.  

2. Methane Inventories 

Because you can’t mitigate what you can’t measure, disaggregating methane emissions is critical for a company to create an action plan to drive methane reductions across the dairy value chain.  

Starting July 2024, companies will publish their methane inventories based on the technical guidance shared by EDF. These inventories will be made public either through the companies’ climate disclosures like CDP, or in their climate/ESG reports.  

3. Methane Action Plans 

Finally, starting in December 2024, each company in the Dairy Methane Action Alliance will publish a methane action and transition plan. Ceres will 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.   

Each of the DMAA signatories are unique in their position in the supply chain, geographies they source from, the operating context of their farmers, and so on. EDF will suggest methane mitigation strategies based on each company’s identified methane hotspots to help them act where it matters for their unique supple chain.  

Going forward, companies commit to report methane emissions from their dairy supply chains and progress made against their methane action plans annually.  

Overall, the Dairy Methane Action Alliance is designed to be a sprint on methane action. Runners know that when it comes to a race, it helps to match pace with a friend; this keeps you on track and motivated. Through this Alliance, EDF is bringing all these companies to the same racetrack: They’ll keep each other motivated and on track to meet these big milestones and reach the finish line. 

What About Targets? 

DMAA is focused on ensuring action and transparency. Creating and publishing a methane inventory as well as a public action plan are mechanisms to ensure strong implementation of methane-reduction practices.  

It’s also important to note that many food and agriculture companies—including those signing onto the Dairy Methane Action Alliance–deserve credit for already taking great strides on climate, such as setting science-based targets and working with their farmers and suppliers to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. We applaud the companies that have set climate targets and are working towards them, and now it’s time for broader action and prioritization of methane throughout the industry. 

What’s Next 

The Dairy Methane Action Alliance is a major step forward for the dairy sector and for the planet, and it’s also only the beginning.  

Through this Alliance, we are working with food industry giants to drive a movement within the dairy sector to reduce methane emissions at scale. And now, we’re calling on all companies in the global dairy supply chain to join us.