FAO Publishes New Report on Global Dairy GHG Emissions

A new report released by the FAO, entitled Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the Dairy Sector calculates the contribution of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions associated with the dairy food chain. The assessment takes account of all major milk producers around the world ranging from nomadic tribes to intensive modern operations and focuses on emissions emanating from the following components of the dairy sector chain:

  • On farm activities
  • Dairy animals culled for meat and calves from the dairy sector raised for meat
  • Production and transport of farm inputs such as fertiliser and pesticides
  • Transport of milk to retailers
  • Milk processing and packaging.

In 2007, the dairy sector emitted 1,969 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent

According to the report, the estimated global average of GHG emissions per kilogram of milk and milk related products is 2.4kg of CO2 equivalent. Of this figure, methane is the biggest contributor to the global warming impact of milk production accounting for 52% of total GHG emissions. Nitrous oxide is the second largest contributor to GHG emissions from the dairy sector, accounting for 27% of GHG emissions in developed countries and 38% in developing countries.

Global milk production, processing and transportation, excluding meat production, contributes 2.7% of global anthropogenic GHG emissions.

This report follows on from the FAO’s 2006 publication of Livestock’s Long Shadow, found that 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions could be attributed to the livestock sector.

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21 Apr 2010




The Institute for European Environmental Policy coordinates CAP2020. It is an independent not for profit institute which undertakes research in a number of policy areas including agriculture and rural development.