CCC report advises meat and dairy consumption reduced by 20% per person
The Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) report says that to meet the UK’s commitment to becoming a Net Zero economy by 2050 requires a transformation in land use across the UK. It also recommends, within its main objectives that the consumption of beef, lamb and dairy is reduced by at least 20% per person, which it claims is well within current healthy eating guidelines.
The CCC’s new report, Land use: Policies for a Net Zero UK, presents a detailed range of options to drive emissions reductions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
It is published at a time of significant change, as the UK leaves the European Union and the Common Agricultural Policy.
In Westminster, new Agriculture and Environment Bills are being introduced this month. Similar legislation is planned in Scotland and Wales – opening the way to the steps recommended by the Committee.
Responding to the report: NFU president, Minette Batters, said: “I’m pleased to see the report acknowledge that British farming produces some of the most sustainable food in the world, highlighting that emissions from UK beef is half that of the global average. The report also emphasises that we can’t risk importing food with a higher carbon footprint than food which has been produced in the UK.”
Lord Deben, chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, said: “Changing the way we use our land is critical to delivering the UK’s Net Zero target. The options we are proposing would see farmers and land managers – the stewards of the land – delivering actions to reduce emissions. Doing so can provide new revenue opportunities for farmers, better air quality and improved biodiversity, and more green spaces for us all to enjoy. But major changes are required and action from government is needed quickly if we are to reap the rewards.”
The Committee’s in-depth analysis says it shows that emissions from UK land use can be reduced by 64% to around 21 MtCO2e by 2050. The report demonstrates that this can be achieved without producing less food in the UK or increasing imports from elsewhere.
There are five objectives for new policy:
- Reduce food waste and consumption of the most carbon-intensive foods – reduce the 13.6 million tonnes of food waste produced annually by 20% and the consumption of beef, lamb and dairy by at least 20% per person, well within current healthy eating guidelines.
- Increase tree planting – increasing UK forestry cover from 13% to at least 17% by 2050 by planting around 30,000 hectares (90 – 120 million trees) of broadleaf and conifer woodland each year.
- Encourage low-carbon farming practices – such as ‘controlled-release’ fertilisers, improving livestock health and slurry acidification.
- Restore peatlands – restoring at least 50% of upland peat and 25% of lowland peat.
- Encourage bioenergy crops – expanding UK energy crops to around 23,000 hectares each year.
NFU full response
Minette Batters went on to add: “A comprehensive approach across the whole UK economy is needed, and when it comes to farming we need to focus on the whole agricultural system. In the NFU’s own plans for net zero agriculture, planting trees and hedgerows to increase carbon stores on farmland play a crucial part, alongside increasing productivity – producing more from less – to deliver low-carbon farming as well as boosting renewable energy and bioenergy production.
“When talking about changing diets, plant-based products do not always necessarily have a lower impact on the environment. It all depends on where and how the ingredients have been produced, the environmental pressures involved in its production, the environmental management associated with that country’s agricultural system and the environmental resources available, as well as how far the product has travelled.
“65% of British land is only suitable for grazing livestock and we have the right climate to produce high quality red meat and dairy. Therefore it makes sense that, when talking about environmental impact, as the report suggests, the public continues to support British livestock production.
“This is not just about reducing domestic and global greenhouse gas emissions, but protecting our natural environment as well. Water is the world’s most valuable resource but it is coming under pressure. In the UK, we have the means to manage our water far better, and we need to see this replicated in government policy.
“We can also be far more ambitious when it comes to cutting food waste. The NFU believes the UK should be aiming for a 50% waste reduction throughout the whole food supply chain, which would also relieve pressure on people to make dietary changes.
“I believe British farmers are very much part of the solution. We want to be the model for climate-friendly food production around the world – food production that continues to include nutritious beef, lamb and dairy products for the world to enjoy as part of a healthy, balanced diet.”