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COP26 – What’s the big deal?

15 September 2021

The 26th United Nations Conference of the Parties on climate change or COP26 is coming to Glasgow in November. This event is the largest global conference this year and leaders from all over the world will converge on Glasgow to come to an agreement on what needs to be done to tackle climate change, but what might this mean for Scottish farmers?

It is easy for farmers to feel disconnected from COP26 and climate change, the scale of the challenge and the high-level discussions that will take place may not seem to have any link to the practicalities of farming in Scotland today. Agriculture is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions and any agreement reached in November will eventually trickle down and have an impact on day-to-day farming in Scotland.

Climate change is the biggest threat facing the world today and this is being recognised by societies and governments all over the world, climbing the ladder of importance for policymakers. Tackling climate change will require a shift in the way we all live and work; agriculture as a greenhouse gas emitter will need to change too. Agricultural policy is shifting and as we move through reform of the basic payments scheme, climate change will be at the forefront of what comes next.

Emissions from agriculture are a significant contributor to climate change. On farm greenhouse gas emissions can be somewhat reduced by improving on farm efficiencies, improving fertiliser management and feed efficiencies are just some options that can help reduce the carbon footprint of a farm. That said, it is unlikely that improving efficiencies alone will be enough to reduce emissions significantly and much more will be required.

As farmers and land managers the way in which land is used can sequester carbon and help tackle climate change. Although farming is heavily scrutinised for its emissions, farming is one of the few industries that also has a huge role to play in sequestration of carbon. Trees, peatlands and farm soils all have the potential to sequester carbon under the right management and could have a major role to play in Scotland achieving its net zero targets.

The goal of achieving net zero by 2045 is going to be challenging and it is hoped it can go towards preventing some of the more devastating effects of climate change, however climate change is here and we must learn to live with it.

Will efficiency improvements be enough for farming to reduce their emissions and achieve net zero? What role can Scotland farms and farmers play in sequestering and storing more carbon in land? How can Scottish farm businesses build resilience to future shocks? A new webinar series from the Farm Advisory Service looks to shine a light on some of these topics and explore these questions in more detail with the help of industry specialists, researchers and working farmers.

Click on the links below to book your place on these free webinars.

A view along the River Clyde in Glasgow with the iconic crane in the foreground and the SECC building behind it.

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