The NFU has reiterated that improvements in productivity, carbon capture and renewable energy production are the most effective ways to reach agricultural net zero targets, as part of its ambition to reach net zero by 2040.
A new report from the Committee on Climate Change recommends the consumption of beef, lamb and dairy being cut by around 20%, and around a fifth of current agricultural land to be used to plant trees. Responding to recommendations, NFU Deputy President Guy Smith said:
“The NFU is working towards an ambitious goal of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions across the whole of agriculture in England and Wales by 2040, as a contribution to the CCC’s proposed 2050 target. Our organisations are aligned: acting to tackle damaging climate change is vital.
“However, we will not halt climate change by curbing British production and exporting it to countries which may not have the same environmental conscience, or ambition to reduce their climate impact. Rather, we must farm smarter, focussing on improving productivity, encouraging carbon capture and boosting our production of renewable energy.
“In Britain, 65% of our farmland is best suited to grazing animals, so our ambition is that the climate impact of UK grazing is amongst the lowest in the world. Already, research from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation shows that beef production in Western Europe is 2.5 times more carbon-efficient than the global average. At the same time UK farmland conserves important carbon stocks in England’s uplands.
“British farmers have an important role to play in tackling climate change and our members are committed to this challenge, alongside fulfilling their responsibility to the public in providing high quality, sustainable and affordable food.”
Committee on Climate Change:
Net Zero - The UK's contribution to stopping global warming
This report responds to a request from the Governments of the UK, Wales and Scotland, asking the Committee to reassess the UK’s long-term emissions targets. The new emissions scenarios draw on ten new research projects, three expert advisory groups, and reviews of the work of the IPCC and others.
The report's key findings are that:
- The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) recommends a new emissions target for the UK: net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050.
- In Scotland, the CCC recommends a net-zero date of 2045, reflecting Scotland’s greater relative capacity to remove emissions than the UK as a whole.
- In Wales, the CCC recommends a 95% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050.