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Agriculture is uniquely placed to help the UK reach its ambitious net zero emissions targets. Currently, emissions from farms across the country amount to 45.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, or about one-tenth of total UK greenhouse gas emissions. But the NFU has set a goal to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions in England and Wales by 2040.
In order to inspire farmers to start their own net zero journeys – and help the NFU reach its emissions ambitions – the NFU has published 26 case studies for how farmers can make positive changes to their businesses. It comes ahead of the 26th meeting of the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow next year.
The 26 examples are included in the booklet Doing Our Bit for Net Zero, and they span across every sector from farms in England and Wales. The case studies also cover each of the three pillars outlined in the NFU’s net zero plan: productivity, carbon storage and renewables and bioenergy.
The work outlined in the booklet includes improving genetics and animal health, increasing soil health and fertility, undertaking precise tree planting and woodland management, investing in new technologies to increase productivity and creating biomass and renewable energy to power the farm and local areas.
NFU deputy president Stuart Roberts, who features as one of the case studies, said: “British farmers are ambitious and we want to be the global leader when it comes to climate-friendly food.
“Our goal of net zero agriculture by 2040 means the industry as a whole being a net zero contributor to climate change. It is a challenge but by coming together to encourage progress it can be done, and it will also help improve our business resilience as well as our environment.”
Stuart stresses that there is no one way to go about achieving net-zero. “It just needs to work for the individual business. Even within the NFU’s three pillars of improving productivity, increasing carbon stores and boosting renewables and bioenergy production, these case studies show that there are so many options for farmers to explore.
“We also recognise that each farmer will be starting their net zero journey from a different place. Whether they’re at the start of this journey or well on the way, every farm and business model has something it can offer.”
Looking ahead to COP26 next year, NFU Cymru President John Davies said the UK agriculture industry wants to be able to show the progress they are making on the world stage. “We want to help pave the way for other agricultural industries across the world to start on the path to net zero. We want to show that it can be done and that every farmer is part of the solution to climate change.”
The NFU will be publishing extended versions of the case studies online over the next few months to provide even more detail about the work farmers are undertaking and how it is contributing to the NFU’s net zero vision.