Farming leaders across the UK have warned that the industry must not be sacrificed in order to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets in the wake of the latest report from the Committee on Climate Change.
In its latest publication, Reducing UK emissions – 2018 Progress Report to Parliament, amongst other things, the Committee warned that large reductions in emissions from power generation had masked a lack of progress in other sectors, including agriculture, and that the sector now accounted for 10 per cent of total UK GHG emissions.
Excluding transport, agricultural greenhouse gas emissions were 46.5 MtCO2e in 2016, broadly unchanged from 2015. Emissions are 16 per cent lower than in 1990, but there has been no progress in reducing emissions in this sector since 2008. Around half come from livestock, and a quarter from soil management, with the rest coming from manure management and machinery.
However, Jim McLaren of Quality Meat Scotland said, “Setting a legal net zero target now would require 16,000 ha of woodland planting per year, the use of GM crop technology and zero livestock production.” He added that current methods for assessing agricultural GHG emissions are “not fit for purpose.”