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Joint UK unions call to address energy and food security at COP27

Martin Kennedy (NFU Scotland President)

Ahead of Agriculture Day at COP27, the Presidents of the UK farming unions have said farming can boost its production of renewable energy to ensure farmers can continue to produce climate-friendly, affordable food in the face of global energy shocks.

The four UK farming unions say the right investment from government to improve infrastructure frameworks and simplify planning regulations would enable greater production of on-farm green energy through solar and wind turbines, and the ability to store this energy in battery packs.

In turn this would reduce energy use from fossil fuels, cut on-farm costs and build farm businesses resilience in the face of global volatility, ultimately supporting sustainable food production.

Farmers across the world are on the frontline of climate change with drought, fires and flooding threatening global food security, and are also facing unprecedented inflationary pressures across the world.

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During discussions at COP27, the UK farming unions are showing how farmers are part of the solution to the climate crisis, and how, with the right support and incentive from UK governments this can be maximised.

NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy said: “Those who produce our food are already adapting their farm management practises and future policy should include an increase in the investment in energy infrastructure, help to produce sustainable meat and dairy more efficiently, production of green fertilisers, water storage, new crop varieties and methods of maintaining crop yield.

“That would further support the many who are managing their land to increase carbon sequestration, planting trees on farm, using cropping techniques to increase soil health and to store more water, and using methods which increase biodiversity.”

NFU President Minette Batters said: “At a time when global volatility is threatening the stability of the world’s food production, food security and energy security have never been more important. Investing in our sector to increase green energy production will not only build resilience in farm businesses and reduce reliance on fossil fuels but will help farmers produce climate-friendly food for people at home and abroad.

“Agriculture’s role in producing renewable energy and sustainable food, alongside other land-based solutions such as carbon capture, must be recognised by decision-makers at COP27 and beyond. This is about giving UK farming the tools to unlock its net zero potential, which is in everyone’s interests.”

Ulster Farmers’ Union President David Brown said: “Here in Northern Ireland, we aspire to consistently improve our carbon footprint as an industry and reduce our net emissions, but support needs to be provided by our world leaders to enable farming as a whole to make this transition towards more sustainable, climate-friendly food production. It is the only way to ensure we are protecting the planet and have a global availability of food for consumers.”

NFU Cymru President Aled Jones said: “Generations of farmers have taken great pride in feeding the nation healthy, nutritious, and sustainable food while enhancing their local environment, boosting biodiversity, and creating habitats for nature to thrive.  While we recognise there’s more we can do, we must also ensure that the transition to net zero is just and that the burden of decarbonisation does not fall unequally on farming and rural communities.”  

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