The dairy and food company Valio, owned by Finnish milk suppliers, has committed to set scientifically assessed targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (Science Based Targets). Valio had already announced that it is aiming for a net zero carbon footprint for milk by 2035. The targets to be set during 2020 are based on the Paris climate agreement: climate warming must be limited to 1.5°C.
The aim of the Science Based Targets (SBT) organisation is that companies’ climate targets are based on science and create significant reductions in emissions. Members of the organisation include WWF, UN Global Compact, CDP, and World Resources Institute. The Science Based Targets organisation scientifically and independently assesses and approves companies’ targets.
– Climate change is the biggest global challenge of our time. We know the impacts of our own operations from the farm to the store shelf, and we want to be part of the solution. Big companies have a significant opportunity to make an impact and, at the same time, a responsibility to mitigate climate change. That is why we too are participating, says Juha Nousiainen, Director of Valio’s carbon neutral milk chain.
Valio has an ambitious climate programme under way to bring the carbon footprint of milk to zero. Science-based SBT targets will be linked with the ongoing work and targets.
– We were the first dairy in the world to publish over a year ago our climate programme aiming for carbon-neutral milk. Our most important goals are to strengthen the carbon sinks of grasslands, reduce emissions from peatlands drained from wetlands, and put manure to use. In the future, manure will be increasingly used to produce biogas as a replacement for the fossil fuels used in transportation. At the same time, the valuable nutrients will be recycled. Naturally, we will reduce emissions also at production plants and in transportation.
For example, over 200 Valio dairy farms have participated in the carbon farmer training organised in collaboration with Baltic Sea Action Group. And the CARBO projects are researching carbon sequestration of grass in partnership with the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), University of Eastern Finland.
– A significant share, over 90 per cent, of milk’s carbon footprint originates at the dairy farm before a milk truck enters the dairy gates. Clearly, the emissions of the entire value chain – from cows to production plants to logistics – will be part of our future SBT targets. More specific targets approved by an independent body will help us to advance in our climate work, Nousiainen adds.
Valio aims to receive approval for its Science Based Targets during 2020.