MPs have been told the Agriculture Bill must contain a sector-specific target to reach net zero emissions by 2040.
According to a plan set out by the NFU last year, the 2040 goal can be met through a mix of improved productivity, boosting carbon storage in soils and vegetation and increased production of renewable energy.
Now Tom Lancaster, head of land, seas and climate policy at the RSPB, has said the target should be enshrined in law.
Giving evidence to MPs on the committee scrutinising the Agriculture Bill this week (February 11), he said: “We have supported in the past, and would still support, a sector-specific target for net zero by 2040, to reflect the ambition of the NFU and others.
“We would support an amendment to that effect. As a statement of intent and clarity on the role which the sector could play in the climate emergency, it is still a really useful thing to look at.”
But ffinlo Costain, chief executive of Farmwel, who was also on the panel, warned the Government needs to reassess the way it measures emissions from agriculture before any target becomes law.
He pointed out the current method focuses on emissions as a whole, rather than warming from emissions, making livestock farming appear more damaging than it is.
“We now have an accurate metric for accounting for methane, and it changes things,” he said.
“By and large, the warming impact of cattle and sheep farms will be about 75 per cent down in terms of methane.
“Before we start talking about hard targets, we need to make sure those metrics are there, because at the moment, farmers are being undermined because they do not trust the metrics.”