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From the editor: Farmers may take time to warm to net zero ambitions

As lockdown enters its final stages, in England at least, it is remarkable to consider the changes wrought by this unprecedented time. None more so than the impact the pandemic has had on the travel and transport industries.

Whether it was the noticeably quieter roads and rail networks at the start of lockdown or the ongoing havoc social distancing measures are placing on the airline industry, who would have predicted global transport infrastructure would have been crippled in such a way?

 

And with that travel shutdown, global CO2 emissions plummeted and agriculture found itself out of the firing line for the first time in several years with regards to its supposed impact on climate change.

 

For many in agriculture this was a blessed victory for common sense and an end to the ongoing vitriol against the industry.

 

With so much of the national media fundamentally viewing agriculture through an environmental lens, it is no wonder the industry has taken so much flak in recent years on this topic.


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But what that realisation makes harder, in some respects, is the job faced by the likes of the NFU in communicating its net zero ambitions, much of which is ultimately allied to efforts to draw down Government funding longer term.

 

Social media channels and internet forums have been awash with farmers saying this spring’s drop in global greenhouse gas emissions shows they are not part of the problem and, therefore, this is not an issue with which they need to engage.

 

There is also some fear at play in these statements, with the suggestion that dairy and beef farmers may face the prospect of environmental permits being something which will sit badly with many. A licence to farm by another name, perhaps?

 

Farming undoubtedly has an important role to play in the battle against climate change, it is just that, perversely, Covid-19 may have made the challenge of communicating what that role is inherently more tricky.

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