UK Farms Set 2020 Green Targets

UK - The UK has recently released a Low Carbon Transition Plan which aims to convert the country to a low carbon economy, cutting emissions by 34 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020.
calendar icon 23 July 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

According to the Meat and Livestock Association, it is estimated that a 21 per cent reduction in the UK’s total emissions has already been achieved. Within the plan, agriculture, land use and waste (which contribute to seven per cent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions) are to contribute by making five per cent of the carbon emission cuts.

In the UK, the majority of agricultural carbon emissions come from methane produced by livestock digestion and manure, or nitrous oxide from fertiliser usually used for pasture improvement. The plan expects to decrease farmers’ carbon emissions and improve the profitability of agricultural enterprises through fertiliser use efficiency, improved manure management and livestock feeding and breeding changes.

The plan also outlines support for anaerobic digestion technology to turn waste and manure into renewable energy. These improvements will be initially documented in a voluntary industry plan by 2010, and then will be assessed if further government intervention is necessary.

The plan also recognises the challenges of reducing carbon emissions by the UK agricultural sector, such as the role of agriculture in supplying affordable food for a growing population, the danger of transferring carbon emissions abroad (substituting local produce with imports from higher emitting industries), and the current uncertainties in estimating agricultural emissions compared to other sectors.

UK retailers have already started promoting low carbon products, such as Asda supermarket’s low carbon beef brand, and Sainsbury’s carbon footprint model which highlights its suppliers’ improvements in energy use, grass conservation, manure storage, feed usage and water recycling.

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