Sustain Comment on the Climate Committee report on land use policies

The Climate Change Committee report 'Land Use: Policies for a Net Zero UK' is out today (23 January 2020).  Read Sustain's response.  

credit: Ben Reynolds

credit: Ben Reynolds

Sustainable farming coordinator for the Sustain alliance, Vicki Hird said:

"There is no doubt we need a major transformation in farming and land use to tackle both climate and nature emergencies. So the Committee is right that that a comprehensive land use strategy is needed to balance the multiple demands being made on land use, both here and overseas, for food, feed, fuel, trees and development. There is a risk of major unintended consequences if climate action is the only consideration.

"Around three-quarters of land in the UK is farmland so the Committee rightly suggests we should, with urgency, use current and future agricultural schemes, like the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS), to promote carbon action including on-farm agroforestry, hedges and woodlands, diversifying cropping, storing carbon in soil and lower stocking levels.

"We welcome the Committee's strong calls for skills, training, information and advice for farmers and land managers, as this is a serious barrier to the adoption of agro-ecological low carbon farming.

"The emphasis on freeing up some land for forestry and peatland restoration makes sense, given the potential carbon storage and adaptation potential. However, carbon is not the only crisis facing us.

The emphasis on more monoculture energy crops to feed power plants is dangerous - a blinkered approach could damage biodiversity and ecosystems as well as our food security and carbon capture technology is untested here. There is also a clear risk of offshoring our food-related ecological footprint and emissions if we have to import more food.

"Sustain welcomes the suggestions on dietary action and changing public procurement of food but feel the ambition is low and narrow. The Committee’s remit on the UK emissions inventory only means it fails to recognise the hefty emissions relating to land use from the ingredients and animal feed produced overseas.

The dietary recommendation to reduce beef and lamb consumption could lead simply to a damaging switch to chicken and pork, without consideration for what these animals are being fed and how they are reared. We need to see more focus on building UK capacity and resilience through genuinely agro-ecological and mixed farming, diversifying production, nature restoration and sustainable diets."

Contact: Vicki Hird 07903478249

Read about our emerging work on the Climate and Nature Emergency 


23/01/2020
Food and Farming Policy

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