Expert insight: A farming perspective from COP25

COP25: Ceris Jones_70978

As COP25 – the United Nations’ international climate talks – get underway today (2 December) in Madrid, NFU climate change adviser Dr Ceris Jones sets the scene from a farming perspective. She writes:

The challenges facing farming around the world were top of the agenda last night as farmers from across the globe came together at a reception to kick off COP25 from an agricultural perspective.

With two recent reports highlighting yet again the increasingly pressing need for global action on climate change, COP25 couldn’t be happening at a more opportune time.

Last week, the United Nations Environment Programme published its latest report which warned that countries will have to increase their carbon-cutting ambitions five-fold to avoid the world warming by more than 1.5C. This came the day after the World Meteorological Organisation reported that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions had reached new highs in 2018.

Farmers and farming are at the forefront of the fight against climate change, with the sector being both one of the most vulnerable to the impact of a changing climate but also one of the best placed to help provide some of the solutions to the challenges. The next two weeks will give the international farming community a major platform to highlight the steps it can take, and is taking, to deliver practical results.

Working towards net zero on farm

In September the NFU outlined the policy, mechanisms and support required from government and other stakeholders in order for agriculture to meet the NFU's aspiration of net zero by 2040. Read the report - Achieving Net Zero: Farming’s 2040 Goal 

Last year’s conference in Katowice, Poland, saw the first in a series of consultations and workshops addressing technical issues like adaptation and livestock productivity measures under the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture. This year, the Koronivia workshop will look at how improvements to nutrient use and manure management can help with sustainable and resilient agricultural systems, using experiences and ideas from across the world - see the Farmers Constituency submission to the pre-talks consultation, which was drafted by the NFU.

Wednesday [Dec 4] – the day designated Farmers Day at COP25 – will see the World Farming Organisation holding a ‘Climakers’ event which will look at the transformation of the food system. ‘Climakers’ was launched at last year’s conference by the WFO to give farmers a louder voice in the climate change agenda and help them take the lead in proposing solutions to the challenges we face that are farmer-driven, science-based and result-oriented.

The wide-ranging discussions that took place last night provided a great start for what should be an interesting, thought-provoking and hopefully agenda-setting two weeks.

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