Abstract for: Policy Levers Influencing the Adoption of Methane Digesters in California Dairies

In the fight against global warming, California has turned its eye to its dairy industry, the biggest milk producer in the United States and the largest methane emitter in the state (Gustin 2010). Dairy cows release methane, a greenhouse gas 30x more potent than carbon dioxide, from belching and their manure. One solution to this problem is the adoption of methane digesters, which capture methane from manure and use it as an energy source. The high capital costs of digesters are preventing widespread adoption and this system dynamics model looks at what policy levers most effectively encourage adoption. The most successful intervention was increasing their desired payback time for the capital costs in the model, essentially lowering the risk aversion of the dairy farmers. This suggests that “human” interventions such as seminars for dairy farmers would be more effective than financial incentives.