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Reflections on #COP26 – Americans in town seeking carbon credits

With the eyes of the world focused on Glasgow over the past two weeks, NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy reflects on COP26 and his participation at the event and global efforts to tackle climate change.

In the third of a series of blogs, Martin discusses the chance encounter with American businessmen and the disappointing discovery that they were here scoping out opportunities to purchase carbon credits for their customers back in the States. He writes:

“By far the most disappointing time I had at the whole event was a chance conversation I had with two Americans one day as I waited to drop my coat at the cloakroom.

“In true Scottish friendly style, I kicked off the conversation by asking where they were from and what their interest in COP was. The conversation deteriorated extremely quickly.

“They were Carbon Traders from South Carolina, representing a $1bn company, and over here to see if they could purchase carbon credits to offset emissions for clients back in the States.

“I was furious but kept my cool and stated that, in Scotland, we are proud of the green credentials we have here and are extremely worried that if this continues, our ability to produce food and encourage younger people into our industry will diminish.

“I also told them that offsetting doesn’t reduce emissions it only compensates for other’s failings to reduce. Their response was that their purchase of carbon credits provides great ‘opportunities’ for landowners here.

I left at that point.

I discussed this at our autumn conference three weeks ago and you can read my speech at: https://www.nfus.org.uk/news/blog/president-martin-kennedys-address-to-autumn-conference

This issue is happening under our noses and I firmly believe that Governments must legislate to stop this happening now because if we don’t we will be paying for this for generations to come.

We are in a Realtime situation where instead of Scotland maintaining its world-renowned status as a high-quality food producing nation with fantastic environmental credentials, Scotland is fast becoming the bargain basement for home and overseas purchasers to invest in carbon credits to offset their own failings to better their own industry. This must stop and it must stop now.

We can find a way to pay for management practice in food production that reduces emissions but we must stop the sale of land if it’s purely for offsetting.

Author: Martin Kennedy

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About The Author

Martin Kennedy

Martin is a tenant farmer in Aberfeldy, Highland Perthshire and farms with his wife Jane and three daughters. They have 600 ewes and 60 cows on the farm rising from 800ft to 2,500ft. Martin served two years as Highland Perthshire Branch chair, before representing East Central region on the LFA committee in 2009. Martin went on to be Vice-Chair before chairing the committee for three years. He was elected Vice-President in 2017 and elected as President in 2021.

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