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Can the Dairy Industry Help Reduce Transportation’s GHG Emissions?

Contributor:

ACT News - Gladstein, Neandross & Associates

Dairy industry to discuss topic at the Dairy Sustainability Summit next week in Sacramento.

The California dairy industry is the nation’s largest, producing about 18.5 percent of all of the milk and dairy products consumed in the United States, nearly 10 billion pounds more annually than the second biggest milk producing state, Wisconsin. It employs over 180,000 Californians and generates an eye-popping $35 billion in annual economic activity for the state. There are nearly 1.7 million cows producing milk in over 1,300 dairies, the vast majority of which are located in California’s central valley.  It is not a stretch to say that the California dairy industry is a pillar of the state’s enormous and critically important agricultural economy.

As the state’s dairy industry has grown to be the country’s largest, California has been simultaneously working hard to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Since the passage of AB 32 in 2006, California has enjoyed considerable success in lowering its carbon emissions. Between 2000 and 2016, California has realized a 9% drop in real GHG emissions, led by reductions from the electrical power and industrial sectors.

Dairy Industry and Transportation Sector Emissions Rise

Two sectors, however, which have not enjoyed as much success in reducing their climate footprint, or which find themselves going in the wrong direction in recent years, are the dairy industry and the transportation sector. Dairy GHG emissions have increased 23.8% between 2000 and 2016, mainly due to the tremendous growth of the industry in California, while transportation sector carbon emissions have gone up every year since 2013. Yet, though there seems to be signs of trouble for each of these sectors, climate protection wise, they are well poised to help one another reverse recent trends and follow the rest of the state’s drop in GHG emissions.

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