News Climate Change and Nature

Food and farming absent from Environmental Audit Committee report on economic recovery 

The Environmental Audit Committee’s new report Growing Back Better is released today, making recommendations for VAT reductions for green products and services, alongside investment in key sectors. 

Credit: Pexels & Pixabay

Credit: Pexels & Pixabay

Ben Reynolds, from food and farming charity Sustain, commented on the new report:

“MPs have failed to look at one of our biggest polluters and biggest opportunities for a green recovery. The report’s recommendations focusing on tax and investment are welcome, without which any Government attempts at a green recovery will wither on the vine. But for a report about growing back better, there is little about real growing – and with food and farming being the largest employer and contributing a third of GHG emissions, this is a major oversight. 

“We need to see that investment targets greener food and farming and the new infrastructure this will need. The Government could start this by ensuring that their new Environment Land Management scheme rewards farmers using whole farm approaches that protect nature and store carbon such as Organic, rather than just rewarding nature around the edges.”


Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said of the report:

“The Covid-19 crisis must be treated as a wake-up call. It is a symptom of a growing ecological emergency. The economic recovery will shape our national economy for decades to come, and it is crucial that tackling climate change and restoring nature is at its core. 

“A tax system fit for net-zero Britain is key. It will encourage innovation, give confidence to the sector and support companies to make the low-carbon transition. 

“There are endless initiatives that can lead to a greener future and the Chancellor should use his upcoming Budget statement to start this process. Boosting energy efficiency of homes by reducing VAT on retrofits can spur growth in low-carbon manufacturing. The funding allocated to the Green Homes Grant should be rolled over to meet the target to issue 600,000 vouchers. The electric vehicle transition must be accelerated with further tax incentives to encourage take up. 

“But a greener future hinges on the health of biodiversity and ecosystems. The economic recovery must not overlook nature recovery. Planning and infrastructure decisions must take into account the impact of nature, and piloting a new National Nature Service can protect wildlife while offering employment opportunities. 

“There will be no vaccine against runaway climate change, and it is our responsibility now, using the opportunity of the economic recovery, to set the UK on track for net-zero.”

The report, Growing back better: putting nature and net zero at the heart of our economic recovery, is the result of the Committees consultation in 2020, which Sustain put a submission into.

Published Wednesday 17 February 2021

Climate Change and Nature: Sustain has taken a keen interest in the rapidly accumulating evidence about the effect of food and farming on climate change and nature, as scientific evidence emerges that our food system is a very significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss.

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