Farmers must go further than focussing on reducing and offsetting emissions to properly combat the climate emergency and adopt ‘net zero plus’ ambitions.
Speaking at the Whitehall and Industry Group’s Net Zero Roundtable on Tuesday March 16, Environment Agency (EA) chief executive Sir James Bevan Bevan said further climate change was inevitable and called for a reduction in emissions alongside adaptation to extreme weather and rising sea levels.
“As a nation, we need to be climate ready, so that we are resilient to the future hazards and potential shocks that would otherwise impact our economy, our prosperity and our lifestyle,” Sir Bevan said.
In response, NFU deputy president, Stuart Roberts, highlighted farmers were on the front line of climate change and said the union had always stressed the importance of adaption alongside reducing and offsetting emissions.
“The extreme weather events we have experienced over the past few years are only going to become more common, so it is imperative that our Government invests in infrastructure that will help mitigate these impacts and build resilience within the sector,” Mr Roberts said.
“There is no silver bullet when it comes to climate action. We need to use all available measures if we are to not only help prevent further global warming, but to protect ourselves, our businesses and our food supply from the impacts of climate change.”
CLA president Mark Bridgeman outlined members were involved in peatland restoration, tree planting, increasing on-land biodiversity and wildlife habitats to help the UK Government achieve its net zero target by 2050.
"Defra’s new Environmental Land Management Scheme offers a strong platform to meet environmental targets but with funding not available until 2024, Government needs to come forward with a quicker solution if we are to offset our carbon emissions and reach net zero," Mr Bridgeman said.
Tenant Farmers Association chief executive George Dunn added short tenancy agreements, as well as those with restrictive clauses, resulted in little incentive for occupiers to invest in land and deliver long-term environmental objectives.
“The Government must use the fiscal levers available to it to incentivise long term farm occupation agreements, creating a better platform for dealing with the investment required for climate change adaptation work," Mr Dunn said.