Wednesday, 15 November 2023 10:55

Editorial: Scope 3 target

Written by  Staff Reporters
A year on from giving farmers a heads up, Fonterra bosses last week revealed the Scope 3 target. A year on from giving farmers a heads up, Fonterra bosses last week revealed the Scope 3 target.

OPINION: Fonterra farmers finally know the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of their co-operative’s much hyped Scope 3 emissions target.

A year on from giving farmers a heads up, Fonterra bosses last week revealed the Scope 3 target – a 30% intensity reduction in on-farm emissions by 2030, from a 2018 baseline.

Fonterra has divided this 30% reduction into four ‘buckets’: 7% reduction through farming best practice such as feed quality and improving herd performance; 7% reduction through novel technologies like Kowbucha; 8% reduction through carbon removals from existing and new vegetation; and 8% from historical land-use change conversions to dairy.

As Fonterra directors and management hold farmer roadshows this week, there will be plenty for farmers to digest. The target is not an individual one. It’s a co-operative wide target. But what each farmer does on his or her farm will help Fonterra reach its target.

The co-operative isn’t talking about incentives or penalties at this stage. The plan is to help each farmer through one-on-one support and specific projects on farm to reduce emissions. There is no talk of reducing feed or fertiliser usage on farm.

Fonterra isn’t doing this on its own. It’s responding to growing sustainability ambitions from its customers and financial institutions, along with increasing market access, legal and reporting obligations. The co-op’s biggest global customers – like Nestlé and Mars – are already working towards ambitious targets to produce dairy products with a low emissions footprint. Their ultimatum to Fonterra is to join the party or they will take their business elsewhere.

Not all Fonterra farmers will be happy paying to go this extra mile to help global giants like Nestlé and Mars. They have more pressing problems on hand – rising interest rates, volatile milk price and weather woes.

Fonterra chairman Peter McBride made it clear that the co-op will be working with farmers and not against them in this journey.

Fonterra farmers will be watching.

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