Scottish farming sector could reduce emissions by 38 per cent by 2045, finds WWF Scotland
Scotland’s agricultural sector could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 38 per cent by 2045, according to a new report for WWF Scotland.
The report, ‘Delivering on Net Zero: Scottish Agriculture’, recommends measures to improve nitrogen fertiliser use, improvements to animal health and breeding, rotational grazing and changes to feed additives to reduce emissions.
Agriculture was the second highest source of emissions in 2017, producing 23.9 per cent of Scottish greenhouse gases, behind the transport sector, which produced 36.8 per cent.
The Scottish Parliament passed the climate change bill in September, based in a 75 per cent cut in emissions by 2030, with Scotland achieving net zero by 2045.
Publishing the report, WWF urged ministers to update their approach to reducing farming emissions through the next budget, as well as the agriculture bill and revisions to the climate plan in 2020.
The study also recommends a shift to organic production, greater integration of trees in farms and conservation agriculture, based in a focus on soil health and plant diversity.
Dr Sheila George, food and environment policy manager at WWF Scotland said: “Agriculture is at risk from a changing climate but can be part of the climate solution - our land is our biggest natural defence against climate change and farmers and other land managers have a key role in protecting it. We need to produce food in a way that reduces emissions and locks up more carbon.
“By adapting our farming methods, Scotland could be at the forefront of the global transition to climate-friendly farming with unique export and branding opportunities arising. To get there, we need to see a reframing of rural policy, financial support along with advice and training available for land managers.”
The report was produced by Organic Policy, Business and Research Consultancy on behalf of WWF Scotland.
Ruth Taylor, climate change policy manager at National Farmers Union Scotland said: “Climate change is a critically important issue for Scottish agriculture, and it is vital that farmers are part of the solution to climate change.
“Any policy introduced to tackle climate change must consider the long-term sustainability of farming and food production in Scotland.
“Measures to reduce emissions should provide practical measures that contribute to climate change challenges while maintaining production and driving forward the performance of agricultural businesses. Reducing emissions from agriculture in Scotland should not come at the expense of exporting our emissions or displacing production.
“The introduction of a suite of measures to mitigate climate change will be important - it is clear that there will be no ‘one size fits all’ solution to reducing emissions from agriculture."