Unions urge Paris delegates to give farming “frontline” attention

The UK’s farming unions have highlighted the importance of agriculture in relation to decisions taken during the UN climate summit in Paris this week.

“Agriculture is unique,” declared a joint-statement from the UK unions. “It supplies food, stores carbon and generates renewable energy, placing farming on the frontline of climate change impacts, being particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events.”

Warning that there is no “one size fits all” solution to farming’s environment and climate needs, the four unions (NFU, NFU Scotland, UFU and NFU Cymru) called for a fair share of water and better protection of agricultural land from flooding, in order to give farmers the confidence to invest for an increasingly uncertain future.

The four also listed the following “key asks” from the Paris programme:

  • Advance improvements in farm productivity and efficiency, where appropriate through sustainable intensification, in order to enhance agriculture’s resilience and reduce its greenhouse gas footprint.
  • Strengthen research that supports the land-based sector, and ensure that developments and breakthroughs are effectively and rapidly translated into commercially viable advice for farmers.
  • Unlock the huge potential contribution of land-based renewables to national energy security – including solar, wind, mini-hydro, anaerobic digestion and other forms of sustainable bioenergy – recognising the substantial diversification income opportunity that renewable energy brings.
  • Ensure that carbon accounting systems ‘credit’ the added mitigation benefits that agriculture can deliver, through carbon storage and renewable energy export.
  • Use sound scientific evidence when including agriculture in future national and international climate agreements.
  • Recognise the complex economic and public policy goals for agriculture that exist beyond climate change adaptation and mitigation.

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