Fonterra’s Francesca Eggleton gave a dairy industry perspective on climate change. The organisation is expecting global warming to have an impact on its supply chain and communities. Methane from enteric fermentation is the biggest contributor, with 85% of the dairy industry’s emissions being produced on farm. Globally the dairy industry’s emissions add up, but it also employs a significant number of people and provides nutrition in an ‘emission efficient’ manner. The New Zealand dairy industry footprint is lower than the global average due to year round pasture grazing, low cow replacement rates and a relatively low use of supplementary feed. The Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam, signed in October 2016, shows that the global dairy industry are committed to sustainable development of the sector to generate benefit for people and the planet. So what are the dairy industry doing here in NZ? The sector has both climate and energy commitments. 25% of NZ emissions come from dairy. The emissions per unit of milk solids have dropped by 20% since 1990. Therefore Fonterra are promoting that farmers continue to farm more efficiently. Looking at managing nitrogen and nitrous oxide, Fonterra are using Overseer and working with about 10,000 farmers in this area. Farmers are developing riparian management plans and planting more. Fonterra is a part of the PGgRc, works closely with DairyNZ and is part of a number of international forums which share information. Fonterra is making an effort to reduce the energy emissions from its processing plants and transport emissions from its light fleet. They are using biodiesel already and a third of the urban fleet is going electric shortly. Branding has been established, known as the ‘trusted goodness’ quality seal, to reflect in the marketplace the good initiatives underway. Francesca highlighted that a lot of work is going on to reduce the NZ dairy industry’s environmental impact, but that Fonterra were keen to do more. There are a range of next steps being considered. Yes, climate change is a challenge, but there are also opportunities if we all work together.
Francesca is the Group Environment Manager at Fonterra in the Social Responsibility team. She is responsible for developing Fonterra’s climate change strategy as well as overseeing a range of key environmental topics. Francesca is a member of the Government's Biological Emissions Reference Group, and the International Dairy Federation's Standing Committee for the Environment. Francesca initially joined Fonterra in the On-farm R&D to work on climate change science, in particular, determining mitigation options for biological emissions. Francesca started her career at the New Zealand Treasury working on innovation policy, followed by a role at the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment.