Just under three per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions are a result of milk production, according to a new report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
This figure includes emissions related to the production, processing and transportation of milk products.
The percentage climbs to four when emissions from meat production from animals originating from the dairy system are factored in, the study says.
FAO points out that methane contributes most to milk’s impact on global warming, accounting for more than half of the sector’s emissions in both developing and developed countries.
Nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide also account for large proportions of the dairy sector’s contributions to greenhouse gas emissions.
The new report covers all major milk production systems, from nomadic herds to intensified dairy operations, focusing on the entire dairy food chain, including the production and transport of inputs, such as fertilizer, pesticides and feed.
“This report is fundamental to understand and identify opportunities for reducing the environmental impact of the dairy sector while providing safe and nutritious foodstuffs,” said Samuel Jutzi, Director of FAO’s Animal Production and Health Division.
The latest report is part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to analyze and recommend steps to mitigate climate change.
Its landmark 2006 study, entitled “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” found that 18 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions were caused by the livestock sector.