Mark van Nieuwland is VP at Bovaer, a branch of the biosciences giant DSM-Firmenich. Bovaer is a feed additive that has been proven to reduce the methane from cow burps—a surprisingly massive source of greenhouse gas emissions—by 30 to 50%. Already in 45 markets, a major partnership with animal-health pharmaceutical company Elanco, and the 2023 introduction of the Innovative Feed Enhancement and Economic Development Act in the U.S. Senate could fast-track adoption at U.S. farms.
What is the single most important action you think the public, or a specific company or government, needs to take in the next year to advance the climate agenda?
Reduce emissions from food and agriculture by 5% in 2024. Companies have set targets for 2030 and beyond. They established their baseline and built reduction roadmaps. Now we need to implement. Many committed to reduce absolute emissions by 30% by 2030, with only six years remaining, and minimal progress to date, this means we need to deliver about 5% per year. I’m convinced there is still a lot of untapped opportunity in the food and agricultural sector. Let’s unleash this potential, and deliver a lower carbon footprint together with providing healthy and nutritious food for all.
What sustainability effort do you hope will gain popularity with the general public this year, and why?
Let’s recognize and unlock the methane opportunity. Methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas, and reducing it almost immediately generates a positive climate effect. Agriculture is one of the main sources of this greenhouse gas. It would be great progress if the general public would recognize this opportunity and motivate the agricultural sector (supported with the right incentives from government) to unleash the potential to reduce methane emissions and achieve an incredible win for the climate.
What’s the most important climate legislation that could pass in the next year?
Set the guard rails and encourage and support early movers. Historically, governments have funded lots of research to reduce emissions. Now it’s time to shift priorities and move from research to implementation at scale. Set the ecosystem up for success. Governments can take a stance to establish clear and consistent guidance on how to account for emission reductions, in other words “set the guard rails.” Unpredictability and uncertainty will otherwise hamper the speed of the transition that is needed.
In parallel, the governments should work on recognizing and putting the right incentives in place for early movers.
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