Reducing farming's greenhouse gas emissions:what will the future bring?
Reducing farming’s greenhouse gas
emissions: what will the future bring?
Director, carbon budgets for agriculture and the food chain
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Mitigation and farming
• The Low Carbon Transition Plan, published in July, set out
how emissions reductions would be delivered for the first
three five year carbon budget periods:
• Committee on Climate Change advised HMG that targets
should no longer be set in terms of CO2, but a basket of
greenhouse gases - including methane and nitrous oxide
Mitigation and farming
• Because targets now cover all main GHGs, agriculture becomes more
• Low Carbon Transition Plan target is a reduction of 3MT of CO2e a year
by the third budget period (2018-22); about 11% from today’s levels
• Setting targets for agriculture needs to take account of:
• Emissions reduction potential
• policies to help deliver
• The risk we penalise UK production and simply export the problem;
• Ability to measure and validate emissions and emissions reductions
Methods for abatement
• Manure management to reduce methane emissions
• Improved fertiliser application to reduce nitrous oxide
• Better animal feed stocks
• Improved crop and grazing land management to
improve soil carbon
• Improved efficiency and productivity – e.g., EBLEX’s
Better Returns programme; improved animal health
Abatement potential, and costs
Crops and Soil
0 5 MtCO2e
Avoid N-Excess Nitrification Inhibitors
-100 Species Intro
Breeding (N Efficiency)
Breeding (Fertility) 2020 Central Feasible
Manure N Use Potential
Timing (Organic N) Timing (Mineral N)
Source: Committee on Climate Change, December 2008
The plan to 2020
To take action To provide support
3Mt reduction compared to 2020 Advisory service
predicted levels Carbon Trust interest-free loans
Outline of Plan by end of Nov Improved inventory
Action Plan by Spring 2010 Anaerobic Digestion
• Intervention options (Spring 2010)
• Climate Change Plan (Spring
• Review voluntary progress (2012)
Why (else) is this important?
• 7% not as much as some other sectors
• But if we fail to deliver agriculture’s emissions reduction for 2020,
our challenge for 2050 will be even greater than it is already
• We want to influence the international agenda on agriculture
• What opportunities are there to sell UK innovation abroad?
• NFU, CLA, and AIC have accepted the challenge of developing
an action plan in response to the targets, and have re-established
the Climate Change Task Force
• Dairy Supply Chain Forum’s Milk Roadmap
• “Change in the Air” – part 1 of EBLEX’s strategy for the
Sustainable Consumption and production of beef and sheep meat
• Last week’s publication by BPEX of “Pigs and the Environment”,
with recommendations for the future sustainability of the sector
• Work with the NFU/CLA/AIC task force on its action plan
• Defra’s climate change programme published in the Spring
• Finding effective ways of delivering advice: making
emissions reductions real at farm level
• Improving the inventory of greenhouse gas emissions from
• Bringing other actors (processors, distributors, retailers) into
the discussion on how we deliver 3 Mts of emissions
reductions by 2020
And after that?
• Reflection on how the farming and food industries operate in
the carbon-constrained world of 2030 and 2050 needs to
• In particular, because we need to know what level of
emissions reduction is achievable and desirable for
agriculture, to help us understand the size of the challenge
for the rest of the economy.
• ...the strategies livestock production should adopt in the face of
concerns about diet and health?
• ...the relationship between improved productive efficiency and
• ...what happens to pasture land if we eat less meat and dairy?
• ...the assumptions we should make about land use change?
• ...what farming practices are best at reducing emissions, or
storing carbon, in the long-term?
• ...how food processors, distributors, and retailers can work
constructively with farming to help meet our targets?