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Wider Context

Understanding how climate change, energy security and food security interact with farming, growing and food is important if you want to change your farming and growing system.

This is where the scene is set for the recommendations and actions later in the Toolkit.

Below you will find clear, concise guides on the following topics – food for thought.


Climate change is acknowledged by the world's leading scientists as a real and critical threat. If carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) are not reduced we face a world which may be radically altered in only a few years time, and already the effects are starting to be seen.
Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are the source of climate change. These gases, the most important of which are Carbon Dioxide and Methane, form a 'blanket' around the planet when they are released into the atmosphere (known as the Greenhouse Effect), trapping heat and warming the Earth.
There are international, regional and national targets on reducing GHG emissions and combating climate change. The UK Government has a legally binding target to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050 and 35% by 2020, and to generate 20% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. These targets affect everyone in the country and Defra has responsibility for a proportion of the overall reduction that must be met from agricultural processes.
As well as the context of environmental change which will impact farmland and growing regions, there are economic, societal and social reasons to take action. Reducing resource use, generating renewable energy and increasing energy efficiency all save or make money, helping farming businesses run more profitably and smoothly. As the food producers and retailers are pressured from regulations above and consumer demand below, supply chains will be increasingly scrutinised for their GHG emissions so taking action now could put you at a competitive advantage in the near future.
The UK faces a significant 'energy gap' in the coming years, as supplies of North Sea gas run out and we become more dependent on other nations for our energy supplies, for example Russian gas. In 2006 the UK switched from becoming a net exporter of gas to a net importer and the trend is set to continue. Renewable energies, such as solar and biomass, provide an opportunity to retain control over our energy supplies and combat climate change.
Changes to global population will massively affect food demand and availability, we need to understand the context before preparing for this.