11th September 2019

How the NFU plans for farmers to achieve net zero by 2040

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The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has released a new report that reveals how British farming will aim to meet its ambitious target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

The report called ‘Achieving Net Zero: Farming’s 2040 Goal’ highlights three pillars of activity that it believes will help the industry to reach its goal. These are:

  • Improving farming’s productive efficiency
  • Improving land management and changing land use to capture more carbon
  • Boosting renewable energy and the wider bio-economy.

The first pillar will use a wide variety of techniques to enhance productivity and reduce emissions, while delivering the same output or more from every farm, while working smarter to use fewer inputs.

The second hopes to strengthen the ability for greater more carbon capture though bigger hedgerows, more trees and woodland, enhancing soil organic matter and conserving existing carbon stores in grassland and pasture.

The third pillar involves displacing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through bioenergy and bio-based materials such as sheep’s wool.

Minette Batter, NFU president, said: “There is no doubt that climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time and rising rapidly on the political agenda both at home and globally.

“Representing British farming, we recognise our unique position as both a source and a store for greenhouse gas emissions and, importantly, how we can build on our work so far to deliver climate neutral farming in the next 20 years.

“We aspire to be producing the most climate-friendly food in the world. The carbon footprint of British red meat is only 40 per cent of the world average. And we can go further, whether that is through improving our productivity, using our own land to take up and store carbon, planting hedgerows and trees to capture even more, and boosting our renewable energy output. We know that there is no single answer to the climate change challenge facing us all.

“That is why we must work across a range of internationally recognised inventories and utilise the best available science, working in partnership with concerted support from government, stakeholders and the wider supply chain. This ‘white paper’ provides a strong foundation on which to talk to others about joining us on our journey.

“I am also very clear that we can deliver on our commitment to net zero while retaining, if not growing, our agricultural capacity. 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.”