Citizen’s Assembly: Emergency Plan for Agriculture and Wildlife
Climate and Net Zero - by Mair Floyd-Bosley and Melanie Coath (RSPB - climate change policy)
Agriculture in the UK produces 45.6 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, 10% of UK total GHG emissions, including significant methane and nitrous oxide contributions. At the same time, the continuing decline of nature is both exacerbated by, and accelerating, climate breakdown. This shared challenge poses vital opportunities for farmers and land managers to address both in tandem, and farming in the right way, alongside nature, gives the opportunity to not only reduce emissions, but lock up carbon.
In our Citizens’ Assembly the climate and net zero group, considered the measures different actors should take to ensure key steps are made towards net zero in the land use sector.
Change in farming policy and practices
Ultimately, to get towards net zero, farming policies and practices much change. This change can be innovative and exciting, facilitated by policy. A few exciting ideas the group had included:
Education and awareness
The group pinpointed education as a key tool to ensure farmers and consumers could contribute towards climate friendly farming. Especially important is the dissemination of knowledge within farming communities:
General understanding of the decisions farmers make by by the public is also important. The group suggested that specific climate-relevant farming practices should be better understood by everyone. This could include messages like understanding extensive vs. intensive cattle farming and the importance of low intensity conservation grazing.
Transparency, information and communication
Connected to education, the group discussed a need for transparency within the food system and clarity on the carbon costs attached to different farming options. This would give consumers tools to understand climate costs, give policymakers accessible data, and farmers would be able to use the information on their own farms.
The group noted that all this campaigning and information must be careful not to create a divide between environmental NGOs and farming with black and white language. RSPB are working to find solutions in our farming system that reduce emissions and sequester carbon – nature-based solutions are the core of our response, and these must be implemented in a way that ensure a just transition for farmers (another of our Assembly themes). We have a long way to go to transition to net zero but hearing the many ideas are out there through our Citizens’ Assembly gives us hope and direction along the journey.
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