Alarming Analysis: UK 58% Below Promised Target for Agriculture and Land Use Emissions

Projected emissions over the next 14 years for agriculture and land are 58% behind the urgent target promised in the UK government’s net zero strategy.   

The UK government’s pledges on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from farming and land use fall short of promises made in its net zero strategy, analysis has found. 

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), who completed the analysis, compared the staggering amount to being equivalent to the collective emissions of the whole UK building industry.   

“The government is putting farming and nature even lower down the pecking order in its climate plan. This will make net zero harder to hit, leave farmers more exposed to climate impacts like drought, and undermine Britain’s food security”, said Matt Williams, the independent climate and land expert who conducted the analysis. 

Currently, there is a slow transition in post-Brexit agriculture policy, where land management schemes will now be incentivised on restoring nature (rather than being paid for the size of land they were accountable for). The new payment schemes were ‘delayed in their implementation, difficult to sign up to and narrow in their scope’, reported The Guardian.  Farmers have expressed disillusionment, with a sentiment that they have been left behind without adequate assistance to decarbonise.  

However, concerns are being raised over the government’s response to total emissions being alarmingly below their pledges for the farming industry.  In the latest net zero strategy, emissions reduction expectations are 35% lower than originally declared, without the notion of promoting a more sustainable diet being addressed.  

WWF used figures from the government’s carbon budget delivery plan to zoom in on just how aligned progress is with targets. Tree planting rates for example, are at half of what they need to be (85% lower than envisaged), and projected emissions benefits from restoring peatlands are 80% lower than promised.  

The statistics are not just alarming in the sense that they indicate urgent targets with grave consequences are not likely to be met, but also the devastating impact that will be dealt to wildlife and biodiversity. To change this course, nature restoration pledges must be fulfilled.  

 “…these figures show the government have knowingly settled for a lack of ambition, making it painfully clear the gap we face to tackle the climate and nature crisis is greater than ever. 

“We need a proper decarbonisation plan for agriculture, proper investment to support farmers to transition to regenerative farming and meaningful action to support sustainable diets. We cannot halt the nature and climate crisis unless we transform the way we use our land. Investment to reward farmers is a vital step to provide what is necessary to meet our climate and environmental goals, reduce emissions and save our wild isles.” said Angela Francis, Director of Policy Solutions, WWF.   

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