Guinness launches agriculture programme to cut carbon footprint of pints

The three-year pilot will use regenerative farming practices to reduce the emissions generated by producing barley.
Guinness launches agriculture programme to cut carbon footprint of pints

David Young, PA

Guinness has launched a major agricultural initiative to cut the carbon footprint of its pints.

The brewer described the three-year farm-based programme as one of the most ambitious ever undertaken in Ireland.

It is designed to drive down the volume of CO2 generated by the production of barley – one of the key ingredients of Guinness.

Involving 40 barley farms in the first phase, the pilot programme will focus on regenerative agriculture practices.

Grainne Wafer, Guinness global brand director, alongside farmer Walter Furlong (Julien Behal/PA)

The initiative has been endorsed by the Government, with Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue hailing its potential.

As well as the participating farmers, Guinness has assembled a network of partners to design and roll out the pilot.

These include soil management and crop production experts and suppliers such as Boortmalt, Glanbia and Comex McKinnon.

The programme will aim to achieve improvements in soil health and the carbon sequestration potential of the land; enhanced biodiversity; reduction in the use of synthetic fertiliser; and better water quality.

Guinness said the pilot would also strive to improve the livelihoods of the barley farmers involved.

Coronavirus – Wed Jun 24, 2020
Kegs of Guinness stacked ready for distribution at the St James’s Gate brewery in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

The brewer raised the potential for many more farms to become involved as the pilot develops.

One of the 40 farmers participating in the first phase is Walter Furlong Junior from Co Wexford.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with Guinness on this programme,” he said.

“The great thing about regenerative agriculture is the simplicity of the approach.

“It’s not a complicated process – it works in harmony with nature whilst providing a commercial benefit for farmers.

“We already use regenerative agricultural practices and have seen a marked improvement in the quality of the soil on our farm. It is a highly effective approach that leads to much better outcomes.”

Coronavirus – Wed Sep 02, 2020
Minister for Agriculture  Charlie McConalogue welcomed the announcement (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr McConalogue welcomed the pilot, stating: “Regenerative agriculture is an exciting area and this pilot shows the importance of sectors working together to reduce emissions.

“It is welcome that one of Ireland’s most iconic brands is taking a strong leadership position on farming and the environment, as we all work towards reducing carbon emissions and meeting our ambitious but necessary climate change targets.

“Delivering on the three pillars of sustainability – environmental, social and economic – is a key priority of mine and is core to the Food Vision 2030 strategy I am implementing.

“I look forward to the roll-out of the programme and continued engagement with Guinness on its progress.”

John Kennedy, president of Guinness’s parent company Diageo Europe, said lessons learned could influence its future production practices across the world.

“This pilot is the first such programme being implemented by Diageo and the outcomes will help inform other potential opportunities, not just in Ireland, but in other countries where we source raw materials,” he said.

“We will openly share the results from the pilot programme so that other farms can learn and adopt practices that have demonstrated the highest potential impact from an environmental and farm profitability standpoint.

“Like the Irish farming community, we are ‘all in’ for the long haul – for our people, products, partners and planet.”

He highlighted that Guinness has a 9,000-year lease at its famous St James’s Gate brewery in Dublin.

“We are only 263 years into our 9,000-year lease and we will never settle in pursuit of a more sustainable future,” he added.

The new programme is part of Diageo’s wider 10-year sustainability action plan called Society 2030: Spirit of Progress.

That blueprint commits the company to achieving net-zero carbon emissions across its direct operations and a 50 per cent reduction in scope 3 emissions (emissions that include supply chains) by the end of the decade.

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