Government support needed to help agriculture reach net-zero

By Andrew Heskin, Partner and ARA specialist

The Government and other key stakeholders need to support the farming community to help achieve the ambitious target of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in agriculture by 2040.

The NFU, NFU Cymru, NFU Scotland and the Ulster Farmers’ Union joined forces to urge all Governments to “support a sustainable and productive future for agriculture”.

As one NFU official commented, farmers across the UK are committed to playing their part in the climate challenge. But, for the strategy to be successful, it must be a “joint effort”, not just from farm businesses but from Government, stakeholders, and the wider supply chain.

According to data from the NFU, UK farm emissions currently amount to 45.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent a year, which is about one-tenth of total UK GHG emissions.

However, the NFU states only around 10 per cent of this is CO2, while 40 per cent is nitrous dioxide (N2O) and 50 per cent is methane (CH4).

The NFU claims that there are “unique opportunities” for farmers to take carbon out of the atmosphere – not only offsetting the emissions from agriculture but also to remove carbon for other sectors.

However, this will be decided on there being a robust price for carbon if farmers are to consider it as a viable income stream.

In addition, a lack of rural digital connectivity could be a barrier to progress in this area, with more needing to be done for farmers to make the most of data and precision technologies.

Much of the UK’s future funding for farming is likely to be linked to a farm’s environmental impact and its delivery of public goods. If rural businesses need support adapting their plans with the environment in mind, speak to us.