Climate change committee says growers can cut more emissions

Growers may have to further reduce their green house gas (GHG) emissions after a report by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) suggested that their emissions targets could be increased by as much as 10 units.

The CCC - set up to advise the governments on the Climate Change Act 2008 - said in a report handed to Parliament last week that there is potential to increase England's agricultural (and horticultural) emissions reduction from the current "relatively low" target of 3MtCO2e (metric tonne carbon dioxide equivalent, which measures the amount of CO2 emissions that are reduced or secluded from our environment) to as much as 13MtCO2e in 2020.

It added that Wales and Scotland should also set higher targets.

The CCC, which is made up of a panel of top climate change experts, claims this target hike could be achieved if farmers and growers were given stronger incentives such as grants, subsidies, charges, levies and taxes to encourage them to take the necessary steps to reduce GHG emissions.

"This could encompass a wide mix of incentives and penalties to encourage low-carbon farming" said the report.

The CCC added that further research needs to be done to better understand the viability of some of these measures.

The joint agricultural Climate Change Task Force - whose members include the Horticultural Development Company, Potato Council and the NFU - welcomed the report's findings but further emphasised the need for more research.

It said in a statement: "British farmers and growers take their environmental responsibilities seriously and real improvements are already being made by the industry to reduce its environmental impact.

"Larger savings in farming's GHG will not be achieved without significantly increasing research and development in animal and crop breeding and nutrition so we welcome the CCC's support for developing new technologies for UK agriculture."

The task force presented its GHG Action Plan to Government in February this year (2010).

The plan states that farmers and growers will play their part in ensuring progress towards the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as required by the Climate Change Act (2008).

The task force said: "Our industry-led action plan is a useful first step and while it has not seen voluntary action succeed in other sectors, our industry has a history of engagement in such initiatives. The industry is committed to delivering realistic emissions reductions."

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