The Farming Social Hub - a voice for the farming community

No COP out for farmers

The NFU has released a report to coincide with COP26 that shows how agriculture is playing a role in climate mitigation worldwide. In the UK, the report says, farmers and growers are already working towards net zero agriculture by taking a range of measures.

These include: investing in new technologies; reducing energy consumption from fossil fuels; increasing soil health; and planting and managing trees, woodland and hedgerows.

The report: Our Journey to Net Zero, farmers from a range of sectors demonstrate how they are adapting their businesses to reduce emissions, capture and store more carbon and produce renewable energy, while also producing healthy, nutritious, climate-friendly food.

The full report can be read here:

In it, the NFU emphasises its commitment to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 and states that agriculture is very much part of the solution, not the problem. It also says that the UK cannot achieve its own climate change goals by exporting British production, and hence our greenhouse gas emissions, to other countries.

To achieve the ambitious 2040 target, the NFU report highlights three pillars upon which farming practices should focus. These are:

Improving farming’s resource use efficiency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enabling farmers to produce food with fewer inputs in smarter ways.

Farmland carbon storage in soils and vegetation, improving land management and changing land use to capture more carbon, through new and bigger hedgerow, more woodland management and more carbon-rich soil.

Boosting renewable energy and the bio economy to displace Greenhouse Gas emissions and create GHG removal through photosynthesis and carbon capture.

Evidence suggests that work under these three pillars could reduce, offset and counterbalance current agricultural emissions of 46.3 MtCO2e/year by 2040.

While the plans outlined in the report represent a clear way forwards, NFU President Minette Batters is under no illusions that this will be an easy task and the farming sector needs buy-in from the government, other parts of the economy and the consumers, if the targets are to be realised.

‘We still have a long way to go if we are to realise our net zero aspiration. The commitment is there – what we now need is a portfolio of policies to support widespread action, whether it’s upgrading rural infrastructure to boost productivity, the further development of farm-level greenhouse gas calculators or investment in methods to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

‘It’s also vital that the government’s agenda works in harmony with its domestic and trade policies. Reducing our impact on the climate should not mean reducing our capacity to feed the country with high quality, affordable home-grown food – food we know the British public want to see more of on shop shelves.

‘In Britain we have a clear ambition to build on our reputation as world leaders in climate-friendly food production, and to back it up with meaningful action. This makes it even more pressing for the government to get behind British farming rather than becoming more reliant on other countries for our food.’