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California is taking its climate action around the world and launching a new pledge to cut global methane emissions. 

Dairy farmers in the Golden State are leading the way, reducing more than 24 million metric tons of methane (CO2e) over 10 years. 

Scroll to read more about dairy farmers' efforts, or click to read about California's methane pledge

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California dairy farms are capturing methane and creating clean, renewable energy. 

More than 120 dairy farms in California currently have digesters operating. Another 100-plus digester projects are in development, to soon be capturing methane from 255 dairy farms. Renewable energy created on California dairies is already making a difference, replacing diesel use and helping power the state's clean-energy future:

 

  • Today, California dairy farms are generating enough renewable natural gas to fuel more than 3,456 transit buses.

  • At the same time, California dairy farms are also generating enough renewable electricity to power more than 12,399 electric vehicles.

  • In total, California dairy farms power more than 15,000 vehicles daily.

Equivalency calculations based on  the average “UBUS” rate per CARB’s EMFAC 2021 emissions model and  the average “LDA” rate per CARB’s EMFAC 2021 emissions model.

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California dairy leads the state's climate efforts. 

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California's Climate-Smart Agriculture programs are top-notch! The are at the top of the list of climate programs that are achieving major reductions in GHG emissions. 

 

The Dairy Digester Research and Development Program is the number one program in terms of total GHG reductions and cost effectiveness (reducing 1 ton of GHG reductions for every $9 invested by the state).  

The dairy digester program is responsible for achieving 23% of GHG reductions from all climate programs invested in by the state with just 1.6% of the total funds awarded.

Additionally, another Climate-Smart Agriculture program, the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP) is also helping to reduce GHGs and improve protection of groundwater on California dairy farms. 

California dairy is on track for climate neutrality. 

A new peer-reviewed study published by researchers from the CLEAR Center at the University of California at Davis shows the California dairy sector is on target to reach the state's world leading methane reduction goals.  The peer-reviewed study, published in CABI Biological Sciences, examined the California dairy sector's progress toward the target set by Senate Bill 1383—a 40% reduction of methane emissions below 2013 levels by 2030. Evaluating the atmospheric warming contributions from 2019 to 2030 under multiple scenarios, researchers identified potential pathways for the industry to not only meet but exceed SB 1383 requirements. The study also concludes the California dairy sector could reach climate neutrality—contributing no additional warming to the atmosphere—as soon as 2027.A recent analysis by UC Davis researchers further documents accomplishments to date and shows that continued implementation of California’s incentive-based dairy methane reduction efforts should, by 2030, achieve the state’s world-leading target for reducing dairy methane emissions by 40% by 2030. Additionally, the report predicts that California dairy farms will reach “climate neutrality” by 2030, or  the point in which no additional warming is added to the atmosphere.

 

Additionally, several reports from the Newsom Administration document the significant environmental, climate, social, and economic benefits of dairy digesters and other dairy methane reduction efforts. These benefits include significant direct and indirect benefits to local disadvantaged communities and priority populations.

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California Climate Investments - 2023 Annual Report

  • Documents that the dairy digester program is responsible for achieving 22% of all GHG reductions from all programs invested in by the state with just 1.6% of total funds implemented.

  • Identifies the dairy digester program as the state's most cost effective, at just $9 per ton of reduction.

  • Reports that 68% of funds expended on dairy digesters are benefiting priority populations. 

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California Department of Food and Agriculture -  Report of Funded (DDRDP) Projects

  • Estimates the cumulative reduction from the dairy digester program as 21.12 million metric tons (MMTCO2e) over 10 years or 2.11 MMTCO2e annually.  

  • Documents the environmental protection of water and air quality. 

  • Identifies significant air, water quality, and nuisance (odor) benefits provided to local communities. 

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California Air Resources Board -  Analysis of Progress toward Achieving the 2030 Dairy and Livestock Sector Methane Emissions Target

  • Documents the progress toward the targeted livestock sector methane reductions. 

  • Identifies the need for additional incentives and grant funding. ​

  • Estimates the societal benefits of reducing methane emissions at up to $1,878 per metric ton.

  • Documents the 40% target reduction in dairy and livestock methane cannot be achieved without significant additional digester development.

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The United Nations environmental program (UNep) assessment underscores the importance of methane reduction in the dairy and livestock sector to overall achievement of the global Paris Climate Agreement to limit additional warming to 1.5 degrees C by 2050. 

  • The Global Methane Assessment recognizes the value of reducing methane in the short-term, including important social, health, environmental, and economic benefits. ​

  • The Global Methane Assessment specifically identifies livestock methane as well as the use of biogas digesters as critical targeted measures to achieve reductions in the short term. 

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