FAO prepares to open carbon markets to the milk sector

Integrating dairy farmers in carbon markets could open up new sources of revenue. [WitthayaP/Shutterstock]

Small-scale milk producers could soon have access to global carbon markets, thanks to a new methodology developed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). EURACTIV’s partner Journal de l’Environnement reports.

The production of one kilo of milk generates 2.8kg of CO2. This is a global average, but real figures can vary between 1.7kg and 9kg CO2 per kilo of milk. These variations are down to the different types of cattle feed used and variations in the energy efficiency of machinery.

Yet despite the many potential areas for improvement, livestock farming has so far been excluded from carbon markets, as no methodology has been developed to certify emissions reductions in the sector. Enter the FAO, which on Friday (4 November) released its first tool specifically designed for calculating emissions from milk farms.

A method tested in Kenya

Certified by the independent organisation Gold Standard, this methodology allows farmers to calculate the greenhouse gasses emitted over the whole milk production process before and after the implementation of emissions-reduction measures.

The system is already being tested in Kenya, a country where milk producers, most of whom are smallholders, suffer from low productivity and high emissions.

For the FAO, the advantage of integrating the milk sector in the carbon markets is two-fold. On the one hand, it encourages farmers to make an ecological transition, and on the other, it offers 750 million small-scale farmers around the world a new source of revenue.

Credits earned by farmers “can be sold on the carbon markets, thus becoming a potential source of revenue that will both contribute to creating a financial motivation for the milk industry to become more environmentally friendly and create new opportunities for smallholders who will be able to increase investment in their farms,” the UN agency explained.

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