January 26, 2023
Meeting the Call: How California is Pioneering a Pathway to Significant Dairy Sector Methane Reduction
The importance of reducing methane emissions as a core climate protection strategy is well documented. According to the 2021 Global Methane Pledge, announced at COP 26 in Glasgow, “Rapidly reducing methane emissions from energy, agriculture, and waste can achieve near-term gains in our efforts in this decade for decisive action and is regarded as the single most effective strategy to keep the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 ̊C within reach while yielding co-benefits including improving public health and agricultural
Well before the release of the UNEP Global Methane Assessment, California had set aggressive targets for reducing methane 40 percent below 2013 levels by 2030, including from the dairy and other livestock sectors (See SB 1383 [Lara, 2016]). This paper focuses on California’s world-leading efforts to reduce dairy sector methane. California’s dairy sector has embraced these goals and made tremendous progress toward this target in the five-plus years since its enactment. Our analysis shows that California’s dairy sector is well on its way to achieving the targets, as recently acknowledged by the California Air Resources Board. Equally important, our analysis documents significant additional reduction efforts that are already funded and occurring and lays out a workable path forward that should enable the California dairy sector to make its proportionate contribution to the 40 percent reduction goal. Our analysis suggests that the comprehensive GHG reduction strategies being implemented will also allow the California dairy industry to achieve “climate neutrality” by 2030.