Union Calls for Common Sense Climate Change Bill

Farmers and crofters have part to play but joined up thinking is needed for any effective reduction in emissions

As the Scottish Government’s proposed Climate Change Bill makes its way through the Scottish Parliament, NFU Scotland acknowledged that there is joint responsibility to fight climate change and that Scottish farmers and crofters do want to play their part in helping reduce emissions from farming.

Most importantly, while Scottish farmers and crofters will play their part in helping reduce emissions, those efforts must not be at the expense of producing food or exporting our emissions by relying on food imports. Instead politicians and environmentalist should support our farmers and crofters and facilitate the changes that might be required in the industry.

The Union have also emphasised the importance of a joined-up approach being taken towards reducing emissions in order to avoid negative knock on effects in other areas such as the provision of ecosystem services and the maintenance of remote rural communities.

The Bill in the Scottish Parliament proposes a target for a 90% reduction in emissions from 1990 levels, but there are calls for this to be increased to 100%. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report added to pressure to increase targets and the UK, Welsh and Scottish governments have subsequently requested advice from the Committee on Climate Change on when/how they should seek to set a 100 per cent target.

This 100 per cent target is commonly referred to as ‘net-zero’. This is important because agriculture will not be able to reduce its emissions to zero; food production necessarily involves emissions. There has been lots of research that has identified the sorts of measures that need to be undertaken in Scottish farming to reduce emissions; it is now a question of maximising the adoption of those measures wherever we can.

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said: “As it stands, and before seeing the advice that the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) will provide next year, NFU Scotland supports the Scottish Government’s approach in the Bill, which includes the target for a 90% reduction rather than net zero.

“We believe that we will achieve much better outcomes in the long run if people are encouraged to tackle emissions rather than be forced to by regulation. By taking a voluntary approach we are encouraging farmers to change practice in a way that potentially also enhances their business; tackling climate change can be a positive.  

“There are some suggestions of how to reduce agricultural emissions that we do not support. We would not, for example, support a deliberate reduction in livestock numbers as a policy aim. This would risk losing many of the environmental benefits of grass-fed beef, dairy and sheep production.

“It is important to remember that Scottish farming already plays an important role in reducing emissions. The representation of agriculture in the greenhouse gas inventory and reporting structures does farming a serious disservice, ignoring the key environmental role farmers and crofters in Scotland provide.”


Contact Douglas Ross on 0131 472 4059

Author: Douglas Ross

Date Published:

News Article No.: 176/18

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