Volta Greentech’s mission is to reduce methane emissions from cows. The methane gas cows release through enteric fermentation equals 4% of the world’s total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (CO2e). This is 2x more emissions than from the world’s fleet of airplanes. Methane emissions from enteric fermentation is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.
Humans have made cows a central part of the food system and there are today around 1 billion cows on the planet who feed a significant part of the human population of 8 billion people. It’s a global debate around the role of the cow and of what the future should look like. We encourage this debate and hope it leads to positive change, as how we live as humans today has severe negative consequences on the health of the planet, other living beings and our own health.
At Volta Greentech, we don’t know what the future of food will look like, if the role of the cows will be as large a part of agriculture as it is today or if the number of cows will increase or decrease. The complexity makes it difficult even for the leading researchers in the world to come to an agreement of what the food system should look like.
What we do know is that there are 1 billion cows in the world today that vastly contribute to warming the planet. And we are in a global climate crisis that will soon be irreversible. With our solution of feeding a daily supplement of natural red seaweed we can more or less eliminate enteric methane emissions from a cow.
Doing this at a large scale, fast enough to make a positive impact on the climate, is not going to be easy. But it’s important that it gets done, and that we do it in parallel to other initiatives within the food and agriculture sector that drive positive change for the climate, the wellbeing of animals and for human health.
Over a 20 year period, methane has a global warming potential 81x that of CO2. Bringing down methane emissions from cows is absolutely essential to limit global warming to the 1.5C target. Just like we have catalytic converters for cars to reduce key pollutants by 90-99%, our solution works as a catalytic converter for cows, radically reducing methane emissions.
Our solution to reduce methane emissions from cows is generally well-recognized for its potential to have a rapid, measurable and positive impact on reducing global warming. From time to time the purpose of our work gets questioned. Some argue that by working on reducing methane emissions from cows, we support and enable the continued existence of an industry, or a part of the food system, that some think should cease to exist because of the negative environmental consequences and suffering of farm animals. It’s a very valid concern and it’s one that has been on top of our minds from the start.
With our consumer brand LOME (Low Methane) we are part of influencing what people choose to eat. LOME was not part of our initial plan. We focused on seaweed production, product development and to find ways to partner with existing beef and dairy brands to implement our solution to reduce emissions. We learned that the industry will not decide on reducing emissions if there are no incentives and no push by consumers or legislators. And there will be no push by consumers or legislators if there is no brand leading the way showing it is possible. A classical chicken and egg problem. We therefore had to create LOME to act as the catalyst of getting consumers and legislators to see that it is possible to reduce emissions from beef and dairy. With LOME we hope to inspire consumers that they have the power with their choices to improve how food is produced.
This puts an enormous responsibility on our shoulders.
Firstly, we have a responsibility to make sure LOME is only attracting consumers who would otherwise consume conventional, non-methane reduced beef or dairy. We don’t want LOME to be used as an argument to increase consumption of beef and dairy as we believe that LOME almost always has a higher environmental footprint than plant-based alternatives.
Secondly, we need to choose beef and dairy partners very carefully and only work with the people in the industry that are at the forefront of working with sustainable practices and improved animal welfare. If we enable reduction of methane emissions but at the same time through LOME support bad practices we would again have failed our mission.
Thirdly, we need to make sure our own work of producing marine red seaweed is done with as low environmental footprint as possible.
In all these areas we will always need to improve. They will be on top of our minds to make sure our solution to reduce methane emissions from the agriculture sector truly makes a significant positive impact not only on the climate but on the food system as a whole.
We’re currently in what scientists call Code Red for humanity. The world needs to aggressively and rapidly bring down climate emissions, using all the tools in the toolbox. We will do our part, by targeting to eliminate the 4% of the greenhouse gas emissions that emanate from cows. We don’t have all the answers, but we believe that significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions from cows is the right thing to do.