The Committee on Climate Change today published ‘Land use: Policies for a Net Zero UK.’ Eating Better welcome this report whilst urging the Committee to reopen the scenarios to bring a renewed focus on biodiversity.
The report assesses the way we use our land today and the changes required in how we farm and use land in order to deliver the UK Government’s Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050.
Understanding is growing that the way we use land needs to change in order to reach close to zero GHG emissions. That means we need to change the way we use our land, and the way we eat. Consensus is developing that we need to free up more land for other uses like tree planting and that means less livestock.
Farmers are part of the solution
Eating Better sees farmers as part of the solution to the climate and biodiversity crises. The report focuses on the actions that land managers and farmers can and should be supported to take.
We know that the subject of dietary change can lead to polarisation of opinion. Despite this, the report’s authors have set out the evidence that what we eat and how we produce it provide some of the biggest opportunities for freeing up land. There are many benefits for changing diets to reduce meat consumption, particularly for our health, improving air and water quality and animal welfare. We welcome these recommendations whilst urging caution at the unintended consequences of switching from monogastric to ruminants.
The report is clear that action led by Government needs to happen now. We agree that one place to start immediately is through transforming public sector catering to include more plant-based options. We think that this should be complimented by all meat and dairy options being provided through nature friendly farming practices.
Eating Better are supportive of the reports recommendation of putting standardised metrics in place that would be supported by mandatory reporting of GHGs emissions across the food supply chain.
Trade deals must support these recommendations
Good work at home can be undermined by international trade, which is recognised in the report. Any future trade deals should be assessed for their impact on the environment, human health and the environment.
There are many opportunities for farmers to make progress. But, the right incentives have to be put in place.
A 50% reduction in all meat and dairy and better as standard
This report is about policy measures and there is much to support and get on with. We have urged the Climate Change Committee to adopt the target of a 50% reduction in meat and dairy consumption in the UK by 2030, and for a transition to ‘better’ meat and dairy as standard.
We recommend that the scenarios should be reopened to bring a renewed focus on biodiversity. For example a switch to chicken fed on imported feed and further intensification of agriculture will have serious impacts on climate, nature and health.
To read the full report, click here.
Simon Billing of Eating Better contributed to two of the Committee on Climate Change's working groups - 'Climate Change and Diets' and 'Policies for Agriculture, Forestry and Land Use.'