Caring for the land by reducing our carbon footprint.


As a locally-owned co-operative, we care about the future of Aotearoa New Zealand.

We’re built from farms passed down from one generation to the next, and this means we’re committed to preserving the land of our country for generations to come.

That’s why we care about the impacts of climate change and are committed to doing something about it.

Stepping up to the challenge

Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our time.  We’re concerned about what climate change means for our whānau, local communities, the next generation of farmers, and our planet as a whole.

We report on our carbon footprint every year because we believe transparency is the first step towards action. Around 90% of our emissions come from farms, 9% from manufacturing, and 1% from distribution.

Globally, New Zealand’s dairy industry produces some of the best milk in the world with one of the lowest on-farm carbon footprints. We’re proud to be one of the most efficient producers of dairy in the world, but we won’t stop there.

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Our commitments and targets

We are committed to reducing our use of fossil fuels in transport and manufacturing and finding ways to manage and mitigate animal emissions on farms.

Our climate change targets are:

30% reduction in manufacturing emissions by 2030

Net zero emissions for our manufacturing sites by 2050

No net increase in GHG emissions from dairy farming between 2015 and 2030

Low carbon dairy

We’re creating dairy goodness in a sustainable way. Every day our cows roam freely on lush, green grass out in the natural sunshine – just as nature intended. But it’s no accident that our milk has one of the lowest on-farm carbon footprints in the world.

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New Zealand farmers work hard every day to make sure their farms are as productive and efficient as possible. With healthy cows grazing on green pastures and by using the best farming practices, Fonterra farmers are continuing to reduce their carbon footprint. 


We’re proud that New Zealand dairy farming has one of the lowest on-farm carbon footprints in the world. We’re committed to maintaining it.

All farms will have a bespoke emissions profile by 2021 so farmers can understand their own footprint and make changes. We have a team of 27 Sustainable Dairy Advisors working with our farmers one-on-one to develop a Farm Environment Plan specific to their farm. Around 31% of farms have a Farm Environment Plan that helps farmers understand and focus on the specific actions to regenerate their farms and make them more sustainable. Every farm will have one by the end of 2025.

We launched our Plant for Good partnership to help farmers plant the right native trees and plants for their farm. 

We’ve announced a new Co-operative Difference payment to reward and recognise our farmers who meet our farm sustainability targets.

Acting on climate change

  • Reducing emmissions at our sites

  • Tackling climate change together

  • Innovating together

  • Reducing methane in cows

Reducing emissions at our sites

Our commitment to dealing with climate change isn’t limited to our farms. We’re investing in innovation and infrastructure to remove greenhouse gas emissions from our manufacturing sites.  We joined up with the Ministry for the Environment to develop a roadmap to a low carbon future.

On this journey, we’ve converted the boiler at our Brightwater site to co-fire with wood pellets and transitioned our Te Awamutu site to wood pellets. We’re also moving our Stirling site to more renewable energy.

Part of this is our commitment to not install any new coal boilers or increase our capacity to burn coal.

Tackling climate change together

Fonterra isn’t the only business facing these challenges. Collectively we must continue to address our use of fossil fuels in transport and manufacturing, as well as find ways to mitigate animal emissions. 

We supported New Zealand’s Zero Carbon Bill, which sets long-term targets for all greenhouse gas reductions by 2050. We’re an active supporter of He Waka Eke Noa, an innovative partnership to reduce primary sector emissions, and joined over 100 other New Zealand companies in the Climate Change Leaders Coalition.

We’re striving to do better. That’s why we’re working with methane research firm DSM, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium on ideas to tackle emissions. 

Innovating together

Scientists all around the world are working on ideas to reduce the methane produced by livestock, and our own Fonterra Research and Development Centre (FRDC) is exploring new ways to reduce our carbon footprint.

We invest in cutting-edge technologies to reduce agricultural emissions through the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium.

We’ve also started work with New Zealander Dr Ian Hunter at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and started work with DSM to investigate the use of their methane inhibitors with pasture-based farming.

We invest in cutting-edge technologies to reduce agricultural emissions through the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium.

We’ve also started work with New Zealander Dr Ian Hunter at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and started work with DSM to investigate the use of their methane inhibitors with pasture-based farming.

We want to identify breakthrough technologies which can provide a step change reduction in the biological emissions produced by cows and promote such solutions globally, so they have an impact wider than the regions where we farm.

Reducing methane in cows

Our R&D team is looking at natural ways to stop cows producing methane in the first place.

We are using dairy cultures to create new fermentations we are calling KowbuchaTM which could potentially switch off the bad bugs that create the methane in cows. 

Its early days but initial results with KowbuchaTM have been promising. Our FRDC scientists are working with AgResearch and the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium to optimise KowbuchaTM to try to create a cost effective and practical solution to reduce methane.