Climate-smart Dairy: Assessing Challenges, Innovations, and Solutions

Project coordinator:
Denis O´Hora, University of Galway

Doris Laepple, University of Göttingen (associated partner)

Partner countries:
United Kingdom, Italy, Finland

Scientific abstract
Food systems are responsible for one third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Dairy production is a significant contributor to those emissions and, given that global demand for dairy is projected to increase, there is an urgent need to reduce emissions from this sector. For example, a clearer understanding of the functioning and acceptability of climate-smart innovations that can be implemented along the dairy supply chain can contribute to achieving a climate-neutral EU continent by 2050.

This project aims to assess challenges, explore innovations, and create new solutions to achieve a climate-smart dairy system. Using a multi-actor, multi-disciplinary approach across four European countries, we will explore interconnections and consequences of climate-smart innovations within the dairy system. We will then use a living lab/stakeholder approach to co-design innovations that will subsequently be evaluated with dairy system stakeholders across the four countries. Specifically, in Ireland, we will assess the acceptability of dairy system carbon markets to accelerate the uptake of carbon mitigation measures by farmers. In Italy, we will simulate the implications of new climate-smart policies and business models along the dairy supply chain. In the UK, we will explore consumers’ perceptions and willingness to pay for climate-smart innovations. In Finland, we will analyse socio-cultural issues related to the consumption of milk and alternative products, as well as dairy-based food waste reduction behaviour. Country specific outcomes will be consolidated during the final stage of the project. Here, we will present findings from all countries to local stakeholders for co-creation of solutions that enable a climate-smart dairy system that is acceptable to all actors from farm to fork. Overall, SmartDairy will create impact by reducing GHG emissions, increasing resource efficiency, and reducing waste, bringing us a step closer to a climate-neutral future.

Key words: Dairy System, Climate-smart innovation, Sustainability, Food waste reduction, Mitigation measures

This project is funded by the 2021 joint call of FOSC and SUSFOOD2.


University of Sussex, Brighton, UK

University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy

University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

University of Reading, Reading, UK

University of Bristol, Langford, UK