Danish dairy giant wants CO2-neutral milk production by 2050

Dairy producer Arla wants to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, and has worked on a plan that encompasses the company’s farming, production and transport.

Danish dairy giant wants CO2-neutral milk production by 2050
File photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

A new overarching emissions plan announced by the company includes, for the first time, the agricultural production of its milk on farms.

Key aspects of the plan include targets of a 30 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030; and completely CO2-neutral milk production by 2050, Politiken reports.

Arla CEO Peder Tuborgh said the climate goals were an important step for the company.

“This is the right thing to do with regard to the way the world is today. The effects on the world of CO2 are not sustainable. And consumers have a clear agenda. They will go somewhere else if you stay away from this area,” Tuborgh said to Politiken.

Tuborgh and Arla are making a sensible choice by backing a climate-friendly business model, according to Jan Holm Ingemann, an agricultural economist at Aalborg University’s Department of Political Science.

“This is sensible. I would almost call it a necessary decision by Arla. And Arla is not alone in having made such a decision. We have also recently seen Danish Crown take a similar step,” Ingemann said.

“If you want to retain the confidence of younger consumers, this is necessary. They demand action. For them, words are not enough, so you have to show that you can set ambitious and visionary targets,” the researcher added.

Arla’s climate plan will affect 1.5 million cows, 10,000 farms and 70 dairies throughout northwestern Europe.

READ ALSO: Danish dairy giant preparing for no-deal Brexit

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‘We still have a chance’: Danish minister’s relief after Glasgow climate deal

Denmark's climate minister Dan Jørgensen has expressed relief that a meaningful climate change deal was struck in Glasgow last night, after a last minute move by India and China nearly knocked it off course.

'We still have a chance': Danish minister's relief after Glasgow climate deal
Denmark's climate minister Dan Jørgensen speaks at the announcement of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance in Glasgow on Tuesday. Photo: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Ritzau Scanpix

“For the first time ever, coal and fossil fuel subsidies have been mentioned. I’m very, very happy about that,” he told Denmark’s Politiken newspaper. “But I am also very disappointed that the stronger formulations were removed at the last minute.” 

Late on Saturday, the world’s countries agreed the Glasgow Climate Pact, after negotiations dragged on while governments haggled over phasing out coal. 

Denmark is one of the countries leading the phase out of fossil fuels, formally launching the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) with ten other countries and states at the Glasgow summit on Tuesday, announcing an end to oil exploration last December, and committing to phase out coal by 2030 back in 2017. 

Jørgensen conceded that the deal struck on Saturday was nowhere near far-reaching enough to keep global temperature rises below 1.5C, which scientists have estimated is critical to limiting the impacts of climate change, but he said the decision to hold another summit in Egypt next year meant that this goal could still be reached. 

“The big, good news is that we could have closed the door today. If we had followed the rules, we would only have had to update the climate plans in 2025, and the updates would only apply from 2030,” he said, adding that this would be too late. “Now we can fight on as early as next year. This is very rare under the auspices of the UN.” 

Limiting temperature rises to 1.5C was still possible, he said. 

“We have a chance. The framework is in place to make the right decisions. There was a risk that that framework would not be there.” 

Jørgensen said that he had come close to tears when India launched a last-minute bid to water down the language when it came to coal, putting the entire deal at risk. 

“It was all really about to fall to the ground,” he said. “The assessment was that either the Indians got that concession or there was no agreement.” 

Sebastian Mernild, a climate researcher at the University of Southern Denmark, said he was disappointed by the lack of binding targets and global deadlines in the plan, but said it was nonetheless “a step in the right direction”, particularly the requirement that signatories to the Paris Agreement must tighten their 2030 emissions reduction targets by the end of 2022.

“It’s good that this thing with fossil fuels has got in,” he added. “It’s a pity that you don’t have to phase them out, but only reduce.”

He said the test of whether the Glasgow meeting is a success or failure would not come until the various aspects of the plan are approved and implemented by members states.