COP26 – our news from week one

COP26 delegates watching Boris Johnson's speech

Week one at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow saw NFU President Minette Batters representing the World Farmers' Organisation and the presidents of all four UK farming unions join together with European and global counterparts to hold a discussion event on delivering food security, resilience and mitigation in a changing climate. 

Read all the key news for farming from our team at the event.

Announcements and pledges

The conference kicked off with addresses from some influential speakers – Sir David Attenborough, Prince Charles and US President Joe Biden – and some big announcements.

The three key announcements were:

  • India will source 50% of its electricity from renewables by 2030 and reach net zero by 2070. This is significant for a developing country and seen as an important step in keeping the 1.5°C target limit for global warming set out in the Paris Agreement alive.

COP26, Glasgow 2021, President Biden

  • Many governments pledged to end deforestation by 2030 but this time there are billions of dollars on the table. It’s sure to please the UK government as this is a flagship initiative for the COP26 presidency.
  • The launch of the Global Methane Pledge by the US and EU to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030 has the oil and gas sector firmly in its sights. Talk of agriculture was all about voluntary activity and, at least in the US, with incentives for farmers. We’ll be expecting the UK government to follow suit.

COP26, Glasgow 2021

However it seems that despite this ‘progress’ many delegates were urging caution.

Some long-standing issues in the negotiations are unresolved. They may not be as glamorous as the big announcements earlier in the week but they are really important for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

In addition, developed countries have still not delivered on the $100bn target promised to developing countries. As many ministers said at the Pre-COP event in Milan last month, this is a matter of trust, so reneging on an earlier deal will not have helped the mood.

Farmers' Day

Farmers’ Day on Wednesday 3 November saw various members of the Farmers' Constituency out in force on many platforms. There was much talk about agriculture as part of the solution. The NFU’s side event, Agriculture’s Ambition – delivering food security, resilience and mitigation in a changing climate really hit the mark. It involved the presidents of all four UK farming unions in collaboration with the Canadian and German farming organisations and AgriCord, which supports developing country farmers’ organisations. It demonstrated the power of farmers, regardless of our differences, speaking with one voice on this international stage.

Dairy Roadmap

It was a theme of strong partnerships again on 4 November when NFU President Minette Batters, representing the World Farmers' Organisation (WFO), took the stage with US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to talk about climate action for the global dairy sector. The journey to carbon neutral food production is like scaling a ladder and the pressures are huge. Through the WFO, farmers are taking the lead with the Climakers programme driving knowledge exchange through science-based solutions. The NFU’s net zero goal effectively opened the doors to put farmers at the heart of the discussion through our three pillars of resource use efficiency, nature-based solutions, and the bioeconomy and renewables. Partnerships are hugely important as shown by the UK dairy sector coming together to publish the recent Dairy Roadmap.

COp26 Farmers Day 2021

Pictured above: North Yorkshire farmer James Johnson on the NFU's exhibition stand at COP26

NFU exhibition stand

The NFU’s exhibition in the public facing 'green zone' on 3 November was a roaring success, with North Yorkshire young farmer James Johnson manning the stand. He had many productive discussions with the public, and was impressed with the level of knowledge and interest in where their food comes from. A key theme of the discussions was the role of livestock on farms, and James brought to life the importance of his animals in the role they play in maintaining a productive, sustainable farming system.

Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture

The continuing negotiations under the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) saw governments shut the door many times to the Farmers' Constituency and other observers. The KJWA is supposed to report at this COP and this is so important as it is the only work under the UNFCCC that directly relates to agriculture. We will be providing an update on the outcomes of these negotiations.

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