CCC outlines how UK can slash land-use emissions by two-thirds

23rd January 2020

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Oleksandr Kislitsyn

The UK can cut its emissions from land use by almost two-thirds if it carries out a range of steps outlined in a report published today by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

This would involve a “major shift“ in agriculture, forestry and peatland management, according to the report, which calls for up to 120 million trees to be planted each year by 2050.

Policy will also have to encourage low-carbon farming practices, an expansion of bioenergy crops, a reduction in food waste and consumption of carbon-intensive foods, and the restoration of peatlands.

This is the first time that the CCC has given in-depth advice on agricultural goals, and comes as the UK prepares to leave the EU's controversial Common Agricultural Policy.

“Major changes are required and action from government is needed quickly if we are to reap the rewards,“ said CCC chairman Lord Deben. “Changing the way we use our land is critical to delivering the UK's net zero target.“

The report explains how land use accounted for 12% of the UK's total emissions in 2017, and outlines how this can by slashed by 64% over the next three decades.

It suggests a new market-based measure to promote tree planting, either through the inclusion of forestry in a carbon-trading scheme, or auctioned contracts similar to those offered for renewable energy.

The new scheme would be funded by a tax on industries like aviation, while separate public funding is needed to encourage low-carbon practices like precision farming, peatland restoration and flood risk alleviation.

A ban on practices such as rotational burning on peatland and peat extraction is also proposed, along with extending existing regulations to bring down agricultural emissions.

Low-interest rate loans for energy crops, an agreement with biomass combustion facilities to source a minimum level of their feedstock from the UK, and new training for low-carbon farming are recommended too.

The CCC said its proposals would cost around £1.4bn per year, generating wider annual benefits of £4bn.

IEMA policy lead, Nick Blyth, said: “In a net-zero world, land availability and land use will be a major pressure point. Really important report from the CCC showing achievable pathways for the future.“

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