Fonterra pushes for 30 percent on-farm emissions reduction by 2030

Fonterra has moved to future proof its business by pushing for a 30 percent reduction in on-farm emissions by 2030.  

But it's a delicate operation to balance the needs of customers with the realities of farming.  

Fonterra is top of New Zealand's leaderboard, from producing dairy to polluting the environment. 

And now it's under pressure from corporate giants, like Nestle - one of Fonterra's largest customers - which in efforts to reduce its own greenhouse footprint needs Fonterra to do the same. 

"This is front and centre to every customer conversation we have," Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell said.  

On Thursday, Fonterra made some big promises.  

"We've decided to introduce a 30 percent reduction of our on-farm intensity by 2030 from our 2018 baseline," Hurrell said. 

Eighty-six percent of Fonterra's emissions come from on-farm. The new target aims to reduce emissions produced per kilogram of milk solids.    

Hundreds of farmers traveled to Fonterra's AGM in Methven to hear how the co-operative expects to achieve this target:   

  • Seven percent reduction through farming best practice like feed quality and herd performance  
  • Seven pct reduction through new technology that are in development   
  • Eight pct reduction in carbon removal from existing vegetation  
  • Eight pct from historical land-use change conversion to dairy.   

However, the new technology is still in development - there's no timeline.  

"It's too early to say what the costs are going to be, it's our job to signal what the market is looking for," Hurrell said.   

But Greenpeace believes Fonterra should have taken a bite sooner.    

"Fonterra is New Zealand's worst climate polluter," Greenpeace Aotearoa's lead climate and agriculture campaigner Christine Rose said. "This is just greenwashing in this announcement; we need to see real action."   

The 30 percent intensity reduction is a cooperative-wide target, not a single farm target.