The rising tides of climate change debate


CLA Land Use Policy Adviser Alice Ritchie examines the impacts of climate change and the growing public debate surrounding the role of Government following the demand for stronger policies from groups such as Extinction Rebellion.  

Over the last four days, the protests run by Extinction Rebellion, a socio-political movement which uses nonviolent resistance to avert climate breakdown, have been dominating Twitter newsfeeds and disrupting cities across the UK and wider Europe.

The group is specifically asking for the government to ‘act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025’. While this is an admirable goal that many will happily get behind, after it took me an extra hour to get to the office this morning, I’m feeling slightly less benevolent to those who’ve locked themselves to trains in the name of climate change.

The CLA has been doing a lot of work on climate change and agriculture, aiming to dispel a few myths and come up with a balanced and well-reasoned view on agriculture’s role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We completely agree that action must be taken, however at this stage, reaching net zero emissions for agriculture by 2025 will just result in empty supermarket shelves and a massive increase in imports. If we don’t want people locked to their local Tesco in protest, we’ll have to find another way to reduce our footprint while continuing to produce the high-quality food we are so well-known for.

 Agriculture’s contribution to climate change has been the focus of a lot of media attention over the last few months. We started off the year with ‘Veganuary’, followed by a few high-profile documentaries, global climate change protests from school children, ‘meat-free Mondays’ and widespread advertising campaigns touting the low carbon footprint of various ‘mylks’ (non-dairy milk). Of course, this has been accompanied by plenty of heated debates on Twitter and a fair amount of misinformation and dubious statistics floating around on the internet.

The message from government is that future agriculture policy is going to focus heavily on climate change mitigation and adaptation, so it’s important that farmers and landowners know how this may impact their businesses. In response to this conversation, the CLA is hosting a Climate Change Summit on 2 July 2019 and we’ve got some fantastic speakers lined up, including Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change. We are really keen to get to the bottom of these issues with our members with the help of key industry leaders.

If you want to find out a bit more about climate change and how it will impact your farm or business, without disrupting any transport, get your ticket to the Summit by clicking here