October 30, 2019
UK farmers say industry will become climate neutral by 2040 without beef cuts
The National Farmers Union (NFU) plan believes agricultural emissions can be significantly reduced without cutting beef production or converting existing farmland into forest, reported The Guardian.
According to the NFU plan, half of the UK's agricultural emissions will be offset through growing energy crops like willow and miscanthus grass – used for bioenergy with carbon capture and storage power plants. "Energy plants" will then become the biggest crop in the UK after wheat.
Current bioenergy technology is at the preliminary stage, but NFU's projections for growing energy crops at large-scale for 2050 is consistent with plans from the Committee on Climate Change, according to the UK's official advisers.
Another quarter of UK's agricultural emissions will be reduced by raising animals and growing crops more efficiently. Key to this strategy in the NFU plan include the use of new technology – feed additives that can reduce methane in livestock, improving crops and livestock through genetic editing, and the use of fertilisers with controlled-release on farms.
The NFU plan also includes expanding the use of more wind, solar and biomethane energy on farms.
Minette Batters, president of NFU, said transforming the UK's agriculture industry to be climate neutral will be difficult but the ambitious plan is needed. She added that farmers understand the devastating effects of climate change, citing poorer crop yields last year due to lack of water.
She said it is important for the government to approve incentives for farmers to manage emissions, with long-term funding in place for the industry.
About 10% of the UK's climate-heating emissions are produced from the agriculture industry. 90% of those emissions are caused by livestock and nitrous oxide from fields.
The UK has pledged to end net emissions by 2050. However, farming and aviation are biggest challenges to that goal.
- The Guardian