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Dairy Climate Efforts Making a Difference

New GHG inventory shows dairy efforts are making an important contribution to state climate goals.


Agricultural emissions are one of few bright spots in the California Air Resources Board (CARB’s) recently released Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emission Inventory—a tool to track progress toward statewide climate targets. The latest edition of the GHG Inventory includes emissions released from the 2021 calendar year. Agriculture sector emissions accounted for 8.1% of California’s total GHG emissions and decreased 0.7 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MMTC02e) or 2.1% in that time period, mostly due to reductions in livestock methane emissions.



The inventory affirms other reports and studies showing that significant reductions are being achieved through the state’s dairy methane reduction efforts. This is the first time that reductions achieved through implementing dairy digesters have been accounted for in the inventory. As of 2021, more than 60 digesters were operational and managed at least 8.9% of the statewide dairy population’s manure. Currently, 120 digesters are operating on California dairy farms. As more projects are funded and implemented, these reductions will continue to expand. Additionally, more than 139 alternative manure management projects have also been reducing emissions, not yet accounted for within the inventory.


Overall, California's GHG Emissions increased 12.6 MMTCO2e (3.4%) from 2020 to 2021, due in large part to economic revitalization as the state began to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. The transportation (7.4%), electricity (4.8%), and industrial (0.9%) sectors all saw increases. Agriculture's successful 2.1% decrease in 2021 is part of a continuing trend of emissions reductions being driven by the state's dairy sector.


California's dairy sector is accounting for 22.6% of all reductions produced by the state's climate investment portfolio. California dairy digesters currently produce enough renewable natural gas and electricity to power at least 15,000 vehicles annually, replacing petroleum-based fuels for low emission trucks, buses and cars. These projects are also greatly improving air quality through the use of cleaner fuels.


California dairy farmers continue to lead the way with climate-smart practices.


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