Responding to this week’s Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) report on the Sixth Carbon Budget, CLA Cymru Director, Nigel Hollett said:
“Farmers and landowners want to achieve even more in tackling climate change – we need to understand how the new Sustainable Land Management Scheme will create a systematic long term and continuously improving solution.
“The report’s ambition to cut greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 63% across the UK economy over the next 15 years is extremely ambitious. Here in Wales we need to understand how every sector can play its part to meet the Welsh Government’s net-zero objective.
“To reach its goal the CCC has scaled up the level of ambition required from the agriculture and land use sectors, calling for emission reductions in farming alongside large targets for tree planting and peatland restoration – strengthening land-use is a big part of the ‘solution’ to achieving net zero.
“For this to be feasible, Government policies to support urgent action from Welsh landowners need to be put in place. The CCC report refers to the need for private investment. This will come if investors – including the financial services industry which supports them – have the certainty of return on investment.
“Wales’ new Sustainable Land Management scheme – to be outlined in a Welsh Government White Paper on Agriculture this month is seen as the main vehicle to deliver sustainable results: productivity and viability, and critically also to introduce formulae which will both deliver reduction in carbon emissions from agriculture and also recognise how appropriately managed land can sequester other emissions. The scheme will also aim to increase biodiversity and meet other environmental targets.
“However, the new scheme will take some time to be introduced. As soon as possible we also need the right policy framework to allow private investment to come on-stream, such as for carbon offsetting.
“Many rural businesses are already taking steps to move towards low carbon farming practices from improving sequestration and carbon storage, and are keen to encourage the rapid adoption of new technologies and innovation. However, the wider needs of both farming and nature must be considered in plans to combat climate change.”
Rural housing has its part to play
“The CLA is also supportive of decarbonising the building stock, although the CCC’s ambitious target can only be achieved if energy performance methodologies accurately assess the thermal-capacity of older buildings, and the metrics used move from focusing on fuel-cost to carbon-cost. Targeted support must be made available for off-gas grid rural homes to enable an effective transition to low carbon heating. Furthermore, rural electricity grids need to be upgraded to cope with more electric heating.”