Presidents of the UK’s farming unions are emphasising the essential role of farmers in climate change mitigation at COP27, calling for a greater level of support for farm-based renewables, which in turn would support climate friendly food production.
Infrastructure limitations and planning regulations have, at times, hindered the development of onshore renewable energy projects in the UK. Investment in the former and simplification of the latter would allow farmers to produce and store more green energy on site, via technologies such as AD plants, solar panels and wind turbines, thus reducing the use of fossil fuels and the release of associated GHG emissions.
Additional revenues could also be generated and on-farm costs decreased, especially energy bills, boosting the resilience of farm businesses and ultimately supporting farmers’ efforts to produce climate friendly food.
NFU President Minette Batters urged leaders to see farmers as part of the solution, saying and the need to support:
“agriculture’s role in the production of renewable energy and sustainable food, as well as other vital solutions such as carbon capture.”
Ms Batters also pointed to the effect rampart energy prices are having on food production, highlighting investment in the generation of green energy as key to
“helping farmers produce climate-friendly food and to unlocking agriculture’s NET Zero potential”.
The comments weer echoed by NFU Scotland’s President, Martin Kennedy, who stated:
“Those who produce our food are already adapting their farm management practises, and future policy should include an increase in the investment in energy infrastructure, help to produce sustainable meat and dairy more efficiently, production of green fertilisers, water storage, new crop varieties and methods of maintaining crop yield.”
While emphasising the work already being carried out by farmers in Northern Ireland to reduce GHG emissions, the Ulster Farmers’ Union President David Brown stated:
“Support needs to be provided by our world leaders to enable farming as a whole to make this transition towards more sustainable, climate-friendly food production.
“It is the only way to ensure we are protecting the planet and have a global availability of food for consumers.”
NFU Cymru President Aled Jones, who will also be speaking at the Low Carbon Agriculture Show 2023, stated:
“Generations of farmers have taken great pride in feeding the nation healthy, nutritious and sustainable food while enhancing their local environment, boosting biodiversity and creating habitats for nature to thrive.”
“While we recognise there’s more we can do, we must also ensure that the transition to net zero is just and that the burden of decarbonisation does not fall unequally on farming and rural communities.”