“Net zero” emissions by 2040 say NFU
The head of the National Farmers’ Union declared in January this year that UK farmers should aim to eradicate greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 – or earlier.
Minette Batters said the UK farming sector was world-leading when it came to animal welfare, food safety, traceability and environmental protection, but that climate change remained a challenge: “Our aim is ambitious – to get our industry to net zero across all greenhouse gas inventories by 2040 or before,” she told the conference.
Agriculture is responsible for ten per cent of Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions – not just in the form of carbon dioxide, but also methane and other gases as a result of livestock and fertiliser use.
“The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations estimates UK beef production is two and a half times more efficient than the world average, and compared with South America, four times more efficient. Competitors in our market from Ireland to New Zealand have laid down the gauntlet, and I am here to pick it up.
“A combination of policies and practices are needed to achieve this aim, and the NFU is looking to build upon our work with industry-led initiatives such as the Greenhouse Gas Action Plan to help deliver this ambition.
“We also look forward to a smart and well-targeted partnership with government and other agricultural stakeholders to build a sustainable, competitive and UK farm sector which is fit to deliver the environmental and social needs of the nation and wider world.”
Earlier in the day, the environment secretary, Michael Gove, addressed the conference, stating that the world was on the cusp of a “fourth agricultural revolution”, and that this would both “dramatically improve productivity on traditionally farmed land” and use “far fewer natural resources in order to maximise growth”.
“The requirement to use less carbon, to limit the nitrous oxide entering our atmosphere and the nitrates entering our rivers, to improve the organic content and fertility of our soil, to renew, reuse and recycle finite natural resources and yet, at the same time, to also improve resource productivity as the human population grows – all these are the forces driving technological growth.
“With an ambitious new Food Strategy, a properly funded 25 Year Environment Plan, rising investment in agritech and world-leading centres of agricultural science, I believe this country can be the vanguard nation for this century’s new agricultural revolution.”