The Committee on Climate Change has issued a report today (Tuesday) and says early action in the new Parliament is needed to keep the UK’s emissions reductions on track and to adapt to climate change.
The report calls on the government to put in place policies such as funding for low-carbon electricity and heat, measures to encourage low-emission vehicle use and energy efficiency, in order to reduce emissions after 2020.
The Committee also recognises the need to prepare for the inevitable impacts of climate change caused by continuing emissions. It says there is a need to act to preserve the fertility and organic content of soils and counter the decline in productive farmland.
NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “The Committee’s view on renewable energy is pretty clear – we need stable policies to incentivise land-based clean technologies such as wind, solar and biogas, otherwise Britain will not achieve its future climate change targets.
“We respect the government’s mandate to constrain onshore wind power, but we are concerned that perhaps inadvertently this will catch out every single farm turbine, no matter what the scale or setting. Small-scale renewables don’t just produce energy, they’re an essential way for Britain’s farmers to earn a reliable income in a time of volatile food prices, and so keep farming and the wider rural economy afloat.
“The challenge facing farmers is how to simultaneously increase production to feed the growing population while also protecting soils for future generations. Through a combination of regulation (CAP), Countryside Stewardships and voluntary initiatives the proportion of soil protected through measures such as cover crops, min tillage, direct drilling and longer rotations continues to increase. This report, highlighting how productive land is at risk, demonstrates the need to retain funding in voluntary initiatives such as Campaign for the Farmed Environment to incentivise and support farmers who want to be leaders in protecting soils.
“The CFE has also proved invaluable in reinforcing the message of the agricultural industry’s Greenhouse Gas Action Plan which supports farmers to improve productivity and so reduce emissions. The advantages of flexibility enabled by the GHGAP’s voluntary activity has provided farmers with site-specific and business-relevant mitigation using tried and trusted routes of influence so keeping the industry on track to deliver its emissions reduction target.”