The National Farmers Union (NFU) has put together a plan that would make agriculture in the UK ‘carbon neutral’ by 2040, which would be a decade ahead of the Government’s overall zero emissions target.
According to the NFU, this three-part roadmap will produce high quality, affordable food while tackling emissions by improving productivity, increasing the number of trees and hedges, and growing more crops for energy.
UK farms are responsible for around one-tenth of greenhouse gas emissions and, while these have fallen by 16 per cent since 1990, there has only been ‘modest progress’ since 2011.
However, according to the plan, farm businesses could make an important contribution to the UK’s legally binding target to cut its climate emissions to zero, and over the next 20 years work could reduce or offset the 45.6 million tonnes of emissions which the agriculture industry is currently responsible for.
As well as improving health in cattle and sheep, and changing their diets to reduce methane emissions, farmers could boost carbon storage by restoring wetlands and growing bigger hedgerows, as well as planting more trees.
Moreover, the report suggests locking up carbon from the atmosphere by using plant-based building and insulation materials and capturing methane from animal manure to heat people’s homes.
As a spokeswoman for the NFU commented, climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing the world and rising rapidly on the political agenda both in the UK and globally.
British farmers are proud to produce food to some of the highest standards of animal welfare and environmental protection in the world. We must avoid anything that undermines UK food production, and merely exports our greenhouse gas emissions to other parts of the world.
Martin Johnson, Manager at Milsted Langdon, said: “The plan to make UK agriculture carbon neutral by 2040 is ambitious, and should be commended. This clearly represents a challenge for the industry, but with climate change a topic at the forefront of society today, it is more important than ever.