Back to: What we buy, and land use, food and farming agenda
Previous: Libby Peake, Green Alliance: Different ways to make change happen
Next: Ceris Jones, National Farmers’ Union: The role of farming in reducing emissions
Tim Hughes: So, yesterday we focused on the topic of what we buy. Today we're going to turn our attention to food, farming, and land use. And it's at this point, we also welcome our online viewers back. So welcome to the live stream as well. So over the course of this morning, we're gonna hear from six speakers. A little bit differently to the way we did it yesterday. Just based on the feedback from you and from the table facilitators as well. So after each speaker speaks, we're gonna give you around about eight or nine minutes on your table, just have a conversation about what they said. Think about the questions that you want to put to them. And then when it comes to the Q&A bit later again, they're gonna be at your table. So you have a decent amount of time to have a conversation with them, then. Just to remind you that you've got the yellow and red cards. So for speaker who's speaking too fast hold up a yellow card, if you kind have missed the last point speaker's made, then hold up a red card, they will repeat it for you.#
So we have six fantastic speakers today to talk to us about food, farming and land use. And our first speaker is Indra Thillainathan from the Committee on Climate Change, she is going to give us an introduction to the topic of food, farming, and land use. So over to you Indra.
Indra Thillainathan: Good morning. How is everyone today? It's bright and sunny morning. Thank you very much for the introduction. So I'd work for the Committee on Climate Change and I'm the agriculture and land-use analyst. And I work on how the sector can reduce emissions and its contribution to achieving the net-zero goal by 2050. So first I thought I'd give a couple of contextual slides on the importance of agriculture in the UK in terms of how much land it uses, the -its contribution to the UK economy and also the amount of food that's produced that we consume.#
So first looking at the area of land, as you can see from this pie chart, agriculture actually takes up more than 70% of the UK land area, and most of that is in grassland. And then we've got some land area to grow crops. So this is crops both for feeding humans but also to grow crops for animal feed. And then woodlands takes up another 13%. But as you can see from the grey area, urban areas such a cities and road infrastructure actually takes up quite small percentage, only about 8%. In terms of agriculture's contribution to the UK economy, it's quite a small proportion. So in 2018, it counted for just less than 1% of the gross domestic product, or GDP. If we look at the bottom set of bullets in terms of the labour force, how many people are actually employed in agriculture. Again this is quite a low proportion around 1.5% of the UK labour force, so less than 500,000.#
So agriculture had -offers quite a low contribution to the UK economy. But in terms of the amount of food that's actually produced, it's quite significant. So this first chart actually shows you, of the food that we consume in the UK how much of it is actually produced within the UK by UK farmers. So the top line looks at indigenous food types. So this is the sort of food that we can grow in our climate. So it obviously excludes things like avocados and bananas. So you can see by 2018 roughly 3/4 of the food we consumed in the UK, indigenous type food, is produced domestically and the rest is imported. The bottom line, the blue line. If we widen the amount of the type of food we consumed to include things like bananas, avocados, kiwi fruit, for example, you can see that the amount of food that we do produce that has been consumed in the UK it falls. It's bobbling around this sort of 60% share. Right.#
So what, this -do you understand the concept of the chart or... No, no, so that the red line looks at the type of food that our climate can produce, so excludes the more exotic tropical food. So of the food that we're able to produce in this climate, we roughly produced 75% of the total food that's consumed in the UK. The remaining 25% is imported. The bottom line includes all food types that we consume in the UK. And obviously, we can't -there's a lot of fruit we can't produce in the UK because we don't have the climate. Hence why that bottom line is a bit lower. So in 2018, it's about 60%. If we look at, hopefully, this chart might make things a bit clearer.#
So if we look at the product type, so the blue corresponds to plant-based foods and the orange bar charts correspond to different types of meat. You can see for wheat, for example, roughly 85% of the wheat that we consume is produced in this country in the UK, and the rest is imported. Fresh vegetables, it declined slightly. And fruit you can see it. It's quite low. It's less than 20%. And again, that's because we import a lot of exotic tropical foods that we simply can't grow in this country. And if you look at beef, veal, pig meat, and poultry. Self-sufficiency, they vary. So pig meal is a bit lower than the other two. We import quite a lot of bacon, for example, from Denmark, so imports account for roughly 47% of the food we consume. We also export about 18% of the food we produce. And if we look at all the food that's exported, so both food for humans, animal feed and drink, it makes up about less than 2% of global agricultural export flows.#
So now, looking at the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that's actually emitted within UK agriculture. We can see from this chart, it's the sixth-largest emitter in 2017. So it's the green line. And we account - the UK agriculture accounts for less than 10% of UK agriculture - total UK emissions. And we can see by this green line it's been broadly flat, so we've seen no real decrease in the last 10 years. Now, if we look at the main sources of agricultural emissions, the biggest source of emissions is it comes from the digestion process of cattle and sheep. So this is, you know, the burping that's talked about the burping of methane, and this is because cattles - cattle and sheep have more than one stomach, which is needed to digest grass. But this actual process emits quite a lot of methane, and that can vary by feed type and also by cattle type.#
Second largest source is the emissions that's generated from managing our soils, our agricultural soils, and that accounts for roughly 1/4 of UK agricultural emissions. And the two largest sources, there are the application of fertiliser on grassland on cropland. So fertiliser can either be chemical fertiliser, or organic fertiliser, which is the (indecipherable) you get from livestock. The third-largest source. Roughly 15% of agricultural emissions comes from the storage and management of manure. So you can imagine, you know, a dairy farm will generate a lot of manure that has to be managed and stored. But that in itself would generate emissions. And the fourth source biggest source, just roughly 10% comes from tractors. So diesel that's a big source of emissions and also the equipment needed to heat, to heat livestock buildings for pigs, for example, but also the cooling and drying systems.#
If we look at the different types of greenhouse gases, we can see that methane accounts for over half of all UK agricultural emissions on nitrous oxide a further 31%. Now, due to the complex biological and chemical processes associating with crop and livestock production, it is not possible to actually reduce these emissions to zero. So at best we can reduce these. But it will be very difficult to get them down to zero unless a big technological breakthrough comes in. But there are ways we can actually get farmers to adopt a different practises on how they farm the land that can reduce emissions.#
So the first one looks at the digestion process, I talked about. So different animal feeds that could be fed to cattle that will help in reducing methane. We can also improve animal health. Also in terms of soils, farmers can be more efficient in the amount of fertiliser that supplied on soils which will reduce the nitrous oxide emissions. And in terms of managing and storing animal waste. If we add slurry to add to slurry stores, that can reduce emissions again. And in terms of energy use, switching away from diesel and fossil fuels to renewables can reduce emissions that way as well.#
And by also reducing emissions, we also get other environmental benefits from adopting these practises. There are improvements in water quality. So if we reduce the amount of nitrogen that's applied on land. Less of it gets washed into the rivers and streams, so the water quality is improved. Also, air quality. Agriculture is the largest source of ammonium emissions, which is quite damaging to human health. So we can improve on that. We can get better air quality, improvements in animal health, soil quality and increasing biodiversity. So that's looking at what farmers can do to reduce agricultural emissions. But there's also a role for us as consumers in deciding the options, the choices of what we eat. So if we eat less beef, lamb, and dairy, that can also contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.#
And as you can see from this chart when looking at the animal protein sources, they have a much higher emissions attached to that unit of protein. So this chart is looking at the unit of protein and how much emissions is attached to each unit. So at the extreme left. You see, beef has the highest emissions intensity, and then as you go along the chart to the right, you can see that generally, you know, pigs and poultry has less, and then when we get down to peas, for example, that's a very small element there.#
But when we do eat beef, lamb, and dairy, it's important that we eat products that have the lowest emissions intensity. So this chart shows you from across the globe the emissions intensity of beef. So we can see that the UK does actually quite well in terms of having the lowest emissions intensity of beef production. So we don't, you know, if we want to reduce our meat consumption, we can do that. But it's important where we also- what - where that beef comes from, so you can see Brazil and Indonesia has quite a high emissions intensity, and in a lot of that is due to deforestation. You know, take the trees down in order to graze animals.#
So that's looking at agriculture. This is now looking at the way we manage and change the use of land, which is also important for reducing emissions and improving our net carbon (indecipherable). And again, there are ways we can do this. Planting more trees, also planting them on farm, energy crops, and restoring peatlands. And there again, they're also a wider set of benefits attached to doing all of this.#
So my next set of speakers are going to go into this in much more detail. So the first set of speakers are going to look at the role of farming and delivering net-zero. Then we've got Jo House, she is gonna talk about the ability of the land to deliver net-zero as well. And then thirdly, the last two set of speakers are going to talk about more of the behavioural side. Looking at diet changes as well. Thank you very much.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.