Charities and agriculture experts want to take the sector to net zero by 2045
A panel of farmers, academics and NGO representatives have published a pathway for making Scottish farming climate compatible.
In a debate that has been notoriously polarised, the Farming for 1.5 Inquiry was able to set out a credible way forward by bringing different perspectives and aspirations around the same table.
Agriculture accounts for 20% of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions and the Scottish Government cannot achieve its ambitious climate targets without a transformation in farming.
After a two-year-long Inquiry, the panel produced a consensus set of policy recommendations, taking the sector from where it is today to net zero in 2045.
Farming for 1.5 was established as an independent inquiry in 2019 by NFU Scotland and Nourish Scotland.
It was born out of the desire to explore a viable way forward for farming; one that could deliver for all stakeholders as well as nature and climate. The panel heard evidence from experts on farming practices, environmental impacts and behavioural change and conducted farm visits. The independence of the Inquiry enabled all panel members to contribute views freely and develop their thinking collectively, without any pre-determined constraints.
The key recommendations of the report include whole farm contracts to deliver on farming and nature from 2024, reducing total emissions from agriculture while maintaining food production per capita and rapid uptake in low methane breeding for cows and sheep.
Nigel Miller, Co-chair of the Inquiry said: “Being part of the 1.5 group has been a fascinating journey which through integrating food production, biodiversity, the wellbeing of both rural communities and landscape into a net zero solution, has left me optimistic about the future of rural Scotland.
“The inquiry journey has reached into soil health and sustainable cropping, in some ways revisiting principles which were established in the 18th century with the first agricultural revolution. Cutting edge science, precision techniques and genetics have also been a significant focus. Both approaches will be part of the net zero future.
The report, built on consensus, breaks through the tired soundbites that often dominate the climate change debate and block smart solutions. The transformation pathway mapped out by the group is a holistic plan which balances the three core goals; food, biodiversity and the 2045 net zero target. It delivers for society as a whole but also provides an integrated route for farmers, crofters and land managers to deliver diverse and sometimes conflicting policy priorities.”
Pete Ritchie, farmer and director of Nourish Scotland said: “With Cop26 a few months away, this report sets out a just transition for farming in Scotland, maintaining livelihoods and food production while transforming the impact of farming on climate and nature.
“Food production is a major global driver of biodiversity loss and climate change and the world can’t achieve the 1.5 degree target unless the way we farm becomes part of the solution. This consensus approach takes time: but we’re only going to get the change we need by working together.”