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To give it its full title, the 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations climate change convention (COP25) took place in Madrid and NFU Scotland, for the first time, was there.
The parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meet every year to assess progress in tackling climate change – and we are acutely aware that next year it is the turn of Glasgow to host.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions while providing food for an ever-growing world population, set to reach 10 billion by 2050, poses an enormous global challenge. However, after listening to discussions, expert panels, and to the negotiations on agricultural emissions at UN level, it is apparent that farmers from across the globe, and not just Scotland, are committed to finding a solution.
At COP25, there was much discussion around future policy direction for agriculture and its role in tackling climate change.
Agriculture as a global industry is hugely diverse, and there will clearly be no silver bullet to solve this challenge. There is a recognition that this diversity must be factored into in the delivery of future policy, and successful mitigation and adaptation policies will have to be provided as a package of measures.
We need to make sure targets set at both national and international level are translated into policies which reflect local priorities and needs, as well as providing incentives and support for innovation.
The farmers’ constituency was clear in its submission to the agriculture negotiations on this point. The constituency highlighted: ‘To be successful, farmers have to lead. We have to be at the centre of discussions and action. We are clear about what we need: innovation; investment in science and extension; and an ambitious financing framework to transform farm productivity and resilience across the world so that no farmer is left behind.’
NFU Scotland has always been clear that measures introduced to mitigate climate change are supported by robust scientific evidence. It was encouraging to see that message emphasised by members of the international farming community, with the president of the World Farmers’ Organisation emphasising: ‘If the process is not science-led, then it is not sustainable.’
With next year’s conference taking take place in Glasgow, climate change will undoubtedly remain at the forefront of the public and political agenda.
By then, decisions on carbon markets will have to be made and all countries will be expected to have made new climate change commitments.
Climate change will continue to be a critically important issue for Scottish farming, and COP26 will be a key opportunity for Scottish farming to showcase all the vital work farmers across the country are doing to reduce their emissions and sequester carbon.
It is clear that there will be no successful climate change process without the involvement and contribution of the agriculture sector.