Athian, an Indianapolis-based company, has launched a groundbreaking voluntary livestock carbon insetting marketplace. This marketplace features the first accepted protocol aimed at reducing enteric methane emissions and improving feed utilization using innovative feed management products from Elanco Animal Health. The unique carbon marketplace allows farmers to monetize their greenhouse gas emission reductions by selling carbon credits. This platform benefits the global food system sustainability while reducing planet-warming emissions.
Livestock farming is a significant contributor to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, accounting for at least 16% of emissions and leading to deforestation and biodiversity loss. Methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide are the prominent emissions from animal agriculture, with methane and nitrous oxide being more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of their warming effect. These emissions are generated through various means, including the digestive process of animals, feed production, manure management, and energy consumption.
Athian’s platform is the world’s first carbon credit program for livestock. It involves verifying farms, certifying and selling carbon credits within the dairy value chain. This enables dairy farmers of all sizes to implement sustainability interventions, measure their impact, and undergo third-party verification for GHG emissions reductions. The resulting carbon credits can then be sold in Athian’s livestock carbon insetting marketplace. Companies in the dairy value chain, such as consumer-packaged goods companies and food retailers, can purchase these carbon credits to contribute to their Scope 3 emissions reduction goals. This not only provides economic value to farmers through credit sales but also supports the U.S. dairy industry’s progress towards GHG emission neutrality by 2050.
In a significant milestone, Athian announced the first sale of carbon credits to Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), the largest milk marketing cooperative in the U.S. If the entire U.S. dairy industry adopted this intervention, it could potentially prevent 4.7 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually from enteric, feed, and manure emissions. This highlights the significant contribution that animal agriculture can make towards climate mitigation efforts.
Athian’s carbon marketplace aims to expand in the long term to include other livestock and poultry sectors. The CEO of Athian, Paul Myer, emphasizes the uniqueness of their marketplace, which retains economic and environmental value within the animal protein value chain. He states that Athian’s first carbon credits for dairy are an exciting step, demonstrating the ability to quantify and verify greenhouse gas emissions reductions and create monetary value for farmers.
While carbon markets are known among farmers, only 3% are currently participating, according to a recent USDA survey. Athian’s inset market model, developed in collaboration with recognized supply chain partners, aims to simplify measurement and verification processes, breaking down barriers to entry and expediting progress. Jeff Simmons, President and CEO of Elanco Animal Health, expressed excitement about Athian’s milestones and highlighted the potential for farmers to achieve climate-neutral farming and create new value. Elanco’s UpLook™ tool, designed to measure and monitor GHG emissions using on-farm data and peer-reviewed science, complements Athian’s verification system, helping farmers quantify reduction efforts and certify carbon credits for sale, further incentivizing sustainability practices.
Food companies and retailers have committed to collectively reducing over 100 million metric tons of GHG emissions by 2030. However, reducing Scope 3 emissions, primarily from raw material production like milk, remains a significant challenge. Athian’s introduction of the insetting livestock carbon credit marketplace offers companies in the animal protein value chain a tangible opportunity to advance their Scope 3 emission reduction objectives. Enteric methane reduction carbon credits are currently available for purchase through Athian’s insetting carbon marketplace.
The collaboration between Athian and Elanco Animal Health marks a significant milestone in the agricultural sector’s journey towards sustainability. By monetizing greenhouse gas emissions reductions and incentivizing sustainable practices, the platform not only benefits farmers but also contributes to the overall reduction of emissions in the livestock industry.