Back to: What we buy, and land use, food and farming agenda
Previous: Indra Thillainathan, Committee on Climate Change: Food, farming and land use
Next: Sue Pritchard, RSA: The role of farming in reducing emissions
Tim Hughes: So we're now gonna move on to hear from our next speaker. All right, if you could just cast your mind back to yesterday where I described the difference between informants and advocates. So we have had a serious (indecipherable) from informants up to now. So people who have given a range of different perspectives range of different evidence. Our next couple of speakers are what we're calling advocates, and they're going to get more than organisational or personal opinion on the topic. First up, we're gonna have Ceris Jones from the National Farmers Union. So over to you, Ceris.
Ceris Jones: Thanks. Yes, hi, and I promise that when I'm spea- I'm not speaking loudly to make the screen shake, it is just the wind. My name is Ceris, and I work on climate change for the National Farmers Union. I have to say it's an honour to speak to you today, not only because this is a really important subject because I'm representing the farmers in this country who have this ambition to be net-zero by 2040. And when you put that in climate - in farmer speak, what it means is that we want to produce the most climate-friendly food in the world. And the reason we want to do that is not just because of the potential impacts of climate change on the planet that we live in, but also because the weather and climate effects everything the farming does. So it's right that we have this ambition, as you've heard in the first weekend, our ambition is about balance. It's about us balancing the greenhouse gas emissions from British agriculture by doing three things.#
The first of those things, and perhaps most importantly, is about reducing the emissions from food production. And we can do that by being more efficient by producing more with less. You'll have heard from Indra's presentation. She talked about some of the ways of doing that. But there are others. So we can work with science and they can help us identify individual animals which are naturally healthier. Grow quicker or are good mothers. So we can use them to breed the animals of the future. We can use technology to help us pinpoint exactly which nutrients, crops might need in the field, and where. And the same is true of livestock we can test when they come into the sheds, we can test what might be in the exactly in the crops that were feeding them and what it is they actually need. And the interim, walked a bit about how we can become more energy efficient through more efficient machinery. Better buildings, and substituting renewable energy for fossil fuels.#
So the second way we can make a contribution to getting to net-zero is by storing carbon on farmland. This's about us, using the natural ability of plants to suck carbon dioxide out to the atmosphere and store it either in woody plants or when normal annual plants, green plants die. That's- that carbon can then be stored in the soil for a long time. Indra talked about how 2/3 of the agricultural land is grassland, and that's already a really good store of carbon. But the opportunities to increase the amount of carbon in our soils comes in the soils, which grow crops, and there are a number of ways of increasing that those levels of carbon, either by growing crops, nonfood crops over a short time. So all of that carbon we've already stored gets returned into the soil, all by bringing like, funny enough, by bringing livestock back in the farm or bringing their muck and manure onto that farm because that's a really good source of carbon and other nutrients which crops need. And it's also good for soil biodiversity and helps farmers reduce the amount of manufactured fertiliser that they might need to apply. We can also do some things with the woody plants on farm. And we've started from the position. What can we better use? What we've already got? So perhaps we could grow our hedges bigger, perhaps bring the woodlands that already there, perhaps manage them in different ways. And this is an addition to planting, perhaps new hedges on trees. But we've tried to think about that in a way which works with food production.#
And then, lastly, we think we have a huge role to play in generating renewable energy not only for our unions but for other sectors of the economy, and in particular, we focused on the biological bit because that's what agriculture is about. It's about biology. And so this is a grass called miscanthus, It's a bit like a bamboo and this can be used to generate energy. This could be used in the energy process and when you couple that with this process called carbon capture and storage, that means you take that carbon out of the atmosphere out of circulation completely. But these plants can perhaps be used to do other things. Scientists are looking of perhaps using this grass for building materials. And we already produce some things that could also substitute for fossil fuels. Cattle and sheep get a really bad climate press, but we get leather from cows and we get wool from sheep. And wool is the most amazing product. I don't know if anyone's here is wearing a wooly jumper, but it can really be used to make clothes or to insulate buildings. And these could naturally replace the things that are produced by fossil fuels or made from fossil fuels.#
So we've done so -our first calculations show that actually, by doing all these three things with more farmers than ever before, doing all these three things, that we can balance the emissions that Indra talked about. I forgot what I was going to say... that we can balance situations that Indra talked about. We've done the calculations using information produced for Indra's organisation and by others. But then we asked our own farmers. We asked them, it doesn't matter whether they're big or small farmers, whether they're landowners or tenants, whether they're young or not so young, and, we asked them, "with what we know now, what is it that you can do? Not only on your own farms but by working together. And that's how we've ended up with this net-zero aspiration. And they did this not only thinking about greenhouse gases, but also about the other things that are important to them. About looking after the countryside, about being at the heart of rural communities, about producing healthy, safe, affordable food for this population. But also thinking about how they could make a decent living. And is a huge challenge. Every fought field is different, every farm is different. And so what we think we need is a range of - I've already talked about some options. We need a range of options available for the diversity of our farmers so they can piece all these things together like a jigsaw for their own individual farms.#
And one thing we know we can't do this on our own. When we're looking to government to help us here. We need policies for all these different -for all these three areas to help us reduce our own emissions. To help us store carbon on farmland and also to help us generate more renewable energy. So we need the right policy framework. We also need, with the level of change that's ahead we're going to need new skills, training. It's going to take investment, and we need trade deals that aren't going to undermine the high standards that we already have here. But this isn't just for government. There's a role here for the supply chain, for the retailers that you go to every week, for scientists, some of whom you hear from later today and all of you because we all eat. And what really well, what - we have to work altogether if we are going to produce the most climate-friendly food in the world. Thank you.
Transcripts provided by Just Transcription. These transcripts have been automatically created and then reviewed by two editors. If you find an error in the transcription where it does not match the video, please contact us at email@example.com.