AIC gives backing to realistic net zero carbon recommendations
2 May 2019
The Committee on Climate Change report calling for action to reach a net zero carbon position for all greenhouse gases is being reviewed by the Agricultural Industries Confederation, which represents much of the UK agrisupply industries.
This is the most serious challenge of our lifetime, according to Robert Sheasby, CEO at AIC. While it makes sense for the UK to take a lead in reducing emissions, Government support is vital to achieve this, and we have to understand what is technically achievable in the farmed and natural landscape. We need to aim high but be realistic.
“The whole agri-food supply chain will require protection from carbon intensive imports that would compete with UK businesses. We also need recognition from government and the media for progress being made,” said Mr Sheasby.
“In other words, Government pressure on the industry needs to be backed with encouragement and where appropriate incentives.”
Too often media reports quote global statistics that misrepresent the UK’s prime position and overlook its geographical benefits. UK soils, rain-fed grass and crops together with high standards of animal husbandry are a great foundation. Coupled with UK farmers’ capability and a highly professional cohort of advisers provides a basis to make significant strides across the whole rural landscape.
Furthermore, the carbon footprint of home-produced fertilisers and animal feeds are amongst the lowest in the world.
“Government must be careful not to disadvantage UK agriculture’s position in its future policy planning which would risk displacing jobs and export emissions off shore,” said Mr Sheasby.
Currently, 10% of UK emissions arise from food production, which may increase as other industries decarbonise. Therefore, AIC maintains that collaboration in farming and landscape management is vital in working towards net zero carbon as far as technically feasible by 2050.
Through the new environmental land management schemes being developed, farmers will be incentivized to make land management decisions best suited to the landscape of which they are custodians. The whole agricultural industry is collaborating with Government to make the changes. A new Farm Emissions Plan is expected next year.
“Society needs to support the process we are undertaking,” said Mr Sheasby. “The focus being on the benefits of eating a UK balanced diet, rather than single issues which don’t serve the cause in the long-run.
“Globally, given that the top emitters (China, US, India, Russia) have no similar commitments to limit carbon, the domestic action that is being planned for must surely need to be considered in a way which does not expose the UK to more carbon intensive imports into the UK/EU.”