Farming News - COP22: Farm unions highlight UK farmers' contribution

COP22: Farm unions highlight UK farmers' contribution

09 Nov 2016
Frontdesk / Renewables

Twenty-two farmers from across the UK will take centre stage in a new brochure Delivering Britain’s clean energy from the land authored by major UK farming unions. The report is being launched on Farmers Day at the COP22 climate conference in Marrakech, Morocco, where world leaders are turning their attention to the role of agriculture in managing a changing climate.

It’s highlighting work being carried out by farmers in the UK to tackle climate change by generating renewable energy on farms. According to the UK’s major farm unions, the international Paris Agreement on climate change signed in 2015, which came into force last week, has opened the door to a wealth of opportunities for farmers to contribute to the low-carbon economy.

However, experts have said that there is still scope for the agriculture sector to significantly cut its emissions, and experts in the UK have highlighted that relatively small cuts in emissions from the sector since 1990 have mostly been the result of indirect legislation, like clean water and nitrates regulations. In August, Defra’s Agricultural Statistics and Climate Change report revealed that less than half of the farmers surveyed were considering emissions in the land management decisions they make.

Climate change, the effects of which are already being felt, is still a dire prospect, and even if the terms of the Paris agreement are met, the planet will still be on course to see temperatures rise more than 3oC over pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. This rise will have disastrous consequences including increasing the spread of disease and crops pests, more intense storms and shifting rainfall patterns, rising sea levels and longer periods of drought. Releasing its Emissions Gap report ahead of this week’s conference, the UN’s Environment Programme warned that greenhouse gas emissions around the world are still way off sustainable levels, and warned that emissions need to be cut by around a fifth before the end of the decade to even meet targets set out in the now legally binding Paris Agreement.

In a joint statement released on Wednesday, Presidents from the UK’s four major farm unions (NFU, NFU Scotland, NFU Cymru and UFU) said, “Agriculture has a unique role to play in the implementation of the historic 2015 Paris Agreement, which is now taking effect. Diversification into low-carbon renewable energy offers our farmer and grower members’ stable and predictable returns, making their agricultural businesses more resilient, profitable and competitive.

“Farmers have embraced a diverse selection of technologies at different scales to meet the needs of their business and the country. They are keen to keep their businesses progressive and at the forefront of technology for present and future generations.”