Does dairy farming contribute to global warming?

Dairying in Australia contributes approximately 1.6% of total national greenhouse gas emissions. The Australian dairy industry has made a commitment to minimise our environmental footprint, including reducing GHGs by 30% across the whole industry by 2030.

Last updated 22/08/2019

The majority of greenhouse gas emissions from Australian dairy production systems come from methane emissions from animals. Methane has the ability to trap heat in the atmosphere and impact climate.

Agriculture accounts for approximately 13% of Australia's total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and water vapour.

Dairying in Australia contributes approximately 1.6% of total national emissions with 90-95% coming from farms and 5-10% from manufacturing.

Per unit of production, Australian dairy producers are among those with the lowest carbon footprints in the world.

The greatest impact on GHG emissions from the dairy sector is from farms and specifically animal methane emissions. This is followed by methane and nitrous oxide from urine and dung. These gases have the ability to trap heat in the atmosphere and impact climate.

Methane emissions represent energy losses from the digestive process. In an effort to reduce the amount of energy lost as methane emissions, the Australian dairy industry is looking for ways to improve the quality of animal feed, and breed cows that can convert that feed into milk more efficiently.

Improvements in manufacturing energy efficiency are also important in reducing the carbon footprint of Australian milk production.

The Australian dairy industry has made a commitment to minimise our environmental footprint through our sustainability framework, including reducing GHGs by 30% across the whole industry by 2030 (from a baseline of 2015).

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