Following a recent meeting with the National Farmers Union (NFU) I asked the government what they were doing to reduce the 10% of the UK’s greenhouse gases that come from the agriculture sector. There are quite a few initiatives being taken, but none on the scale needed to make a significant impact, according to the Climate Change Commission. The draft Agriculture Bill offers a rare chance to change the system of financial incentives to give a boost to public goods, such as reducing climate change and rewilding the countryside.
Many of the follow up questions from other peers raised vital points about reducing food waste and the failure of voluntary measures. Also, the need for a clear government timetable for reducing emissions down to zero. This is how the Minister replied:
“With the environment Bill and the Agriculture Bill, we will bring forward an environmental land management scheme where mitigation of and adaptation to climate change are going to be so important. Therefore, public money for public good is part of what we are providing, along with specific schemes to reduce, for instance, ammonia.”
As the NFU have made clear, the big challenges of Brexit are as a ‘drop in the ocean’ compared with the climate emergency which is unfolding on our planet. I hope the environmental movement will try its best to use the Agriculture Bill to fundamentally change how we produce what we eat. While we as consumers think carefully about what we eat.