COP26 – NFU shows the world that UK farmers are serious about net zero

An image of a solar farm

Find out what was agreed at COP26, what work is still needed to tackle climate change, and how the NFU team engaged with representatives around the world to tell the story of British farming.

What is COP26?

COP26 is the 26th meeting of the UN Climate Change Conference, which brings together heads of state, academics and a host of organisations and businesses from around the world to discuss and negotiate measures to tackle climate change.

This year’s host is the UK government, and as such the event was held in Glasgow, from 31 October to 11 November. The event follows COP26 President-Designate Alok Sharma's major speech in May, during which he asked everyone to act now and act together for the planet we live on.

Read more information on the Glasgow Climate Change Conference and the UK government’s work as host.

How we represented farmers at COP26

The NFU has represented British farmers and the wider farmers’ constituency at every COP since 2015. 

This year, along with the farming unions of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, we held a one-day exhibition on 3 November to promote the work farmers are doing to produce climate-friendly food.

NFU President Minette Batters spoke at several events during the conference to promote the work British farmers do, and to show our willingness to work with farmers across the world to improve agriculture’s climate credentials.

Read our report

As part of our COP26 activity, we launched a new report - Our Journey to Net Zero - to highlight the work of members and how the NFU is working to reach our target of net zero by 2040.

Farmers' Day

Wednesday 3 November at COP was 'Farmers' Day', where you, our members, were able to showcase the work you are doing to achieve our net zero ambitions and demonstrate that British farming is part of the solution to climate change.

Our journey to net zero: Farming's 2040 goal

As part of this, we collaborated with the Canadian and German farming organisations as well as AgriCord, to deliver a side event where food security and resilience in the face of climate change was debated on an international platform. 


Read our roundup from weeks 1 & 2:

Highlights included the signing of the Glasgow Climate Pact which crucially included the key pledge to phase down coal. Although the pact did not place as a great an emphasis on the role agriculture has to play in tackling climate change, COP26 saw the NFU team participate extensively in a range of meetings and events, engaging with delegates and politicians from around the world, telling the story of British farming and the fantastic work that has been done so far towards achieving net zero. 


Media

Presidents from the four UK farming unions came together to answer questions from the media. President Minette Batters was interviewed for media outlets such as ITV News and the BBC Food programme, and North East farming ambassador James Johnson was also interviewed by ITV News.

Online

Members got involved and showed their support on social media with signs and infographics, and by sharing stories of why they are proud to produce climate friendly food. The hashtag #BackBritishFarming was seen by over 2.7million people on that day and NFU content across all social media channels was seen by almost a quarter of a million people.


COP26 as told from the NFU team:

NFU Chief Renewables Adviser Dr Jonathan Scurlock and NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board chair Ali Capper gave an insight into their experiences of COP26; both came away with the feeling that more action was desperately needed.

Representing the younger generation, one of the NFU's North East Student & Young Farmer Ambassadors, James Johnson, described his time in Glasgow and how the conversations he had with visitors demonstrated the need to get back to basics when explaining the challenges climate change poses to agriculture.

What next?

All eyes are on COP27, due to be hosted in Egypt from 6-18 November 2022. COP27 aims to be the year where commitments are driven through and acted upon; in other words, the year words turn into action.

The NFU will once again be in attendance, with agriculture receiving a much higher profile than it has in recent years. Designated food and agricultural days will be held during the conference and young farmers will be leading the way at COY17 (Conference of Youth) with the NFU set to present what young farmers need from COP27, ahead of the global conference. 

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