New fellowship to bring clarity to the climate change debate - 8 October 2019

A ground-breaking fellowship with NFU Scotland will pull together the scientific evidence around greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and carbon sequestration in agriculture and its impact on climate change.

Newly appointed Fellow, Dr Gemma Miller writes: “The purpose of the Fellowship will be to pull together the scientific evidence around greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and carbon sequestration in agriculture and its impact on climate change – particularly focusing on the distinct role of agriculture in Scotland.

“I have a background in researching GHGs and carbon sequestration within the agriculture and land-use sector (ruminant livestock production, agricultural soils, peatlands and forestry), which puts me in a good position to help bring clarity to some of the more contentious issues within the industry.

“The agricultural industry is under ever increasing pressure to reduce GHG emissions, to meet national and international climate targets.

“However, the debate surrounding the impact of agriculture on climate change often becomes bogged down by opposing claims, misinterpretation of facts and repetition of myths.

“If the agricultural industry in Scotland, as a whole, can agree on what the current state of play is regarding agricultural emissions and environmental impact, it has a much better chance of moving forward in taking action to further reduce GHG emissions and in improving the image of Scottish agriculture.

“Science plays a role here in two ways:

“Firstly, by defining the role of agriculture in climate change in terms of emissions and sequestration. Scientists both physically measure GHGs in the field and build computer models which can accurately predict GHG emissions and sequestration from agriculture under current and changing conditions. There are lots of different methods that are applied to achieve this, and these vary from study to study.

“I’ll be creating some materials which will provide a clear and concise summary of the facts, how these are backed up by scientific evidence, and the level of confidence we have that the values reported are accurate.

“Secondly, science is shaping the response to climate change through development of agri-tech solutions, developing and rigorously testing GHG mitigation strategies, leading research in soil science, agronomy, animal nutrition and health; informing policy through economic analysis and behavioural science and understanding the wider impacts through ecological and environmental science.

“So I’ll also be writing a series of blogs over the next few months which will focus in on ground-breaking research being undertaken across the SEFARI collective (SRUC, Moredun, the James Hutton Institute, BioSS, The Rowett Institute and the Royal Botanic Gardens) and beyond, so watch this space!

“Environmentalists, in a short film with The Guardian, have recognised that natural climate solutions can make a massive difference, so our farmers and the people who manage our landscapes really are, and need to be considered as, part of the solution to the climate crisis.

  • Dr Gemma Miller is a researcher at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and newly appointed Fellow with NFUS. The Fellowship is being funded through the SEFARI (Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes) Fellowship scheme.

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Andrew Moir

106 days ago

Really looking forward to seeing facts not fiction. Well done NFUS on this initiative with the good Dr. AWM
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