The Scottish Government must commit to a radical new system of farm funding to deal with climate change, environmental campaigners have said.
The call comes after new figures, published last week, show that climate emissions from agriculture have risen to become the second largest source of Scottish emissions.
The 2021 Scottish emissions statistics show that farming now emits more than the business sector, with only transport making a larger contribution to climate change.
The worrying figures come as Scotland missed its emission reduction targets following a rebound after the pandemic.
The Scottish Government is introducing an Agriculture Bill which will create a new system of farm funding to replace the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.
The Farm for Scotland’s Future campaign, launched by a coalition of environmental and farmers’ groups, says that the new system must support farmers and crofters to produce food in ways that are better for nature and climate.
That can include reducing chemical fertilisers and pesticides, increasing land farmed organically, and integrating trees onto productive farmland.
The latest figures follow a stark warning from the Climate Change Committee (Dec 2022) that progress on reducing emissions from agriculture was far too slow.
“The way we farm is a significant driver of nature loss and a major source of climate emissions. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
“Many farmers and crofters want to produce food in ways that are better for the planet. But the current funding system doesn’t do enough to reward that.
“With agriculture now the second largest source of emissions in Scotland, it’s obvious that business as usual cannot be an option.
“We have a once in a generation opportunity to create a better system. It is essential that the Agriculture Bill delivers change – and quickly.”
Between 2020 and 2021 there was an increase of 0.1 MtCO2e (1.9 per cent) in agricultural emissions.
Emissions from agriculture have fallen by 10.8% since 1990, compared to a Scotland-wide reduction of 49.2%. Agriculture has made the slowest progress of any sector in reducing emissions.
Scottish Greenhouse Gas Statistics 2021
Climate Change Committee progress report to Parliament (Dec 2022)