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The CCC release their assessment of the UK's Clean Growth Strategy

18th Jan 2018

Source: The Committee on Climate Change 

Yesterday (17th January) the Committee on Climate Change released their report on the Government's Clean Growth Strategy. The strategy, which was published in October 2017 sets out the plans by the Government to meet the legislated fourth and fifth carbon budgets which covers UK emissions in the periods 2023 - 2027 and 2028 - 2032. The report released by the CCC assesses how this strategy stacks up against the challenges and provides advice on what else needs to be done to meet targets. You can read the full report here.

The executive summary highlights some key conclusions which are:

  • the Government has made a strong committment to achieving the UK's climate targets, by placing the low carbon economy at the heart of the UK's industrial strategy and framing the Clean Growth strategy as a positive contribution to the economy (rather than a burden to be minimised).
  • Policies and proposals need to be firmed up (we need to progress aspiration to delivery!)
  • Gaps to meet the fourth and fifth carbon budgets remain - and these must be closed.
  • Risks of under - delivery must be addressed and carbon budgets met on time

What are the headlines for agriculture?

Where are the gaps in policies and proposals announced in the Clean Growth Strategies?

A commitment to include climate change mitigation as part of a new system of future agricultural support is welcome. However strong policies to deliver emisisons reductions in agriculture need to be developed soon. The acceleration of tree planting rates should occur earlier than the strategy's proposed timeline of 2020 to ensure that around 70,000 ha of afforestation is delivered in England by 2025.

The CCC identify a need for urgency in progressing to firm policies and delivery of abatement actions. 

Progress required for agriculture

Key Outcome required in 2030 Recent progress Further action 
Reduced emissions from crops, soils and livestock by around 19% below 2015 levels No progress reducing agricultural emissions over the past 6 years Publish a new strategy on agriuclture and land use setting out policies to reduce emissions and sequester carbon

Where does soil carbon fit it?

In the Clean Growth Strategy the government have committed to developing a strategic approach to greenhouse gas removal technologies. While on a large scale this involves lots of clever technology to look at carbon capture and storage (CCS), it is encouraging to see the recommendation that a strategy should include:

"support for research, development and demonstration to help clarify whether options deliver genuine long-term GHG removal and to address technical, environmental and social challenges. Examples include improving measurements of land carbon, assessing impacts over the lifecycle of bioenergy crops and biochar, and testing of direct air capture processes." 

What are the key milestone for agriculture?

The Clean Growth Strategy describes a set of policy milestones which should lead to a clearer more defined set of firm policies over time. The milestones for agriculture is:

"to set out policies to deliver emissions reductions trhough a range of measurements including crop and soil management; livestock diets, health and breeding; waste and manure management and energy efficiency by 2020."

What does this all mean?

The stark warning above is that there is seen to be no progress in reducing emisisons from agriculture over the last 6 years. Although we are working in complex biological systems that produce food and are difficult to set concrete and mandatory reduction targets against, we need to start to work together to look at what is feasible in terms of reducing emisisons. Although these discussions will be happening at policy and strategic level, this is an opportunity to start to think about these things at the farm level.  Where are the emissions hot spots within your farm? What can you do about reducing them? If you are interested in carbon footprinting your business to understand what your starting point is and where attention might be directed please get in touch. You can email Becky at [email protected] or give her a call on 01579 372376 / 07875 356611.