‘Project Mootopia’ takes aim at greenhouse gas emissions

Published: May. 14, 2022 at 12:02 AM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Ben & Jerry’s global sustainability manager Jenna Evans says combating climate change is part of their social mission. That’s why they’re taking on ‘Project Mootopia.’

“Ben & Jerry’s carbon footprint is more than half from our dairy supply chain,” Evans tells Channel 3. “So it’s important we’re addressing the emissions from the dairy supply chain directly.”

By 2024, the company hopes to reduce greenhouse emissions on 15 of their dairy farms to half the industry standard. 7 of those are here in Vermont.

“It’s an existential threat to humanity,” Evans continued. “It’s an extremely important issue to everyone around the world and we need to do our part to mitigate it.”

Greenhouse gasses include carbon, methane, nitrous oxide from things like cow burps and manure. Megan O’Toole, climate change mitigation coordinator for the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, said agricultural production accounts for 16% of greenhouse gasses created in Vermont.

“Greenhouse gasses, when admitted, absorb solar radiation and trap that heat energy in the atmosphere, which in turn has a warming effect on the planet,” O’Toole explained. Warming can lead to more climate disasters and destruction of natural resources.

Right now, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture doesn’t have emission limits for farms. Judson Peck, from their water quality division, says they just encourage best practices like higher feed quality and soil maintenance.

“Agriculture is a highly vulnerable sector, so any strategies that can help farms be more resilient to the impacts of climate change is going to be very important,” Peck said.

Evans says Ben & Jerry’s is hoping their experiment will lead to cleaner farming, not only for themselves, but across the industry.

“I think the practices that are going to work well will be able to be scaled up across our supply chain, but as well as anyone else who would like to learn,” Evans said. “We don’t see sustainability as a proprietary thing.”

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