Farmers' key to combating climate change

31 October, 2006

According to the NFU Britain's farmers and growers have a 'crucial role to play' in combating climate change, and are 'ready and willing to rise to the challenge'.

Responding to Sir Nicholas Stern's report published on yesterday (Monday 30 October) NFU president Peter Kendall said he believed the farming industry would be in 'total agreement' with his message that 'only action today will avoid a catastrophe tomorrow'.

"My over-riding ambition is for British agriculture to be part of the solution to climate change, not part of the problem", said Kendall. "That will require maximising the positive contributions farming can make to climate change on the one hand, and minimising the negative impacts on the other.

"On the positive side, the potential to replace fossil fuels by bio-energy is immense. We can grow biomass for sustainable heat and power; we can process biogas from our farm wastes; and, of course, we can produce biofuels from crops like oilseed rape and wheat."

Kendall explained that even after allowing for the cost of harvesting, processing and transportation, bio-fuels still yield net savings of 70% in greenhouse gas emissions compared with fossil fuels. "The Government's Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, which requires oil companies to use a minimum of 5% of bioethanol or biodiesel in their fuels by 2010 will reduce CO2 emissions in Britain by two million tonnes," he continued.

"And by producing the raw materials for biofuels sustainably in the UK, we can avoid the environmental damage associated with imported biofuels, such as palm oil."

The NFU also said it was 100% behind proposals in a leaked letter from Environment Secretary David Miliband to the Chancellor Gordon Brown to offer tax breaks for anaerobic digesters, which reduce greenhouse gas emissions from livestock waste, and precision farming equipment, which allows crops to be grown with maximum energy efficiency.

"We will achieve far more by incentivising farmers and growers to reduce the negative impact that farming has on climate change than by threatening them with new taxes or yet more controls," Kendall commented.

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