Scottish government must do more to reduce farming emissions to meet Net Zero

A coalition of leading environment charities has called on the Scottish government to do more to cut emissions from farming following today’s announcement that the government will weaken its 2030 climate targets. 

The charities, members of Scottish Environment LINK, say they are deeply concerned by the changes to the targets. They have welcomed the focus on farming in the new climate policies also announced today, but say the Scottish government must now demonstrate how its Agriculture and Rural Communities Bill, currently before parliament, will get farming to Net Zero.   

Agriculture is Scotland’s second biggest source of emissions, with only transport contributing more to climate change. The Agriculture and Rural Communities Bill has been widely seen as the key opportunity to reset Scotland’s system of public funding for farming so that it helps farmers and crofters cut emissions and restore natural ecosystems.

The Farm for Scotland’s Future campaign, coordinated by Scottish Environment LINK and backed by more than 40 environment, farming and food organisations, calls on the Scottish government to provide farmers and crofters with financial support to produce food in ways that are better for the climate and for nature.  

This could include investing in selective breeding to reduce methane from cattle, reducing the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, increasing land farmed organically, and integrating trees onto farms and crofts. 

Campaigners have welcomed the government’s intention, announced today, to explore further options for peatland restoration, expand a Cairngorms community deer management scheme nationally and expand the existing Regional Land Use Partnership network in 2024/25. They also welcome the interventions on methane suppressing feed additives. 

But they stressed the need for a more ambitious framework for action on agricultural emissions. 

Deborah Long, chief officer of Scottish Environment LINK, said: 

“We are deeply concerned by the modification to the Scottish government’s celebrated 2030 climate targets. We are seeing impacts of the nature and climate crises now, right across the globe, and so now is not the time for the government to take its feet off the pedal. 

“The Scottish government has been proud to position itself as a world leader on climate. If it really wants to lead the way, it must provide a credible support system for farmers and crofters to reach Net Zero. The measures announced today are a start but they’re not enough. 

“People want sustainably produced food, and many farmers and crofters want to work in ways that are better for the planet. We need the Scottish government to do all it can to make farming work for nature, climate and people. 

“We also need to speed up action to restore soils, peatlands and woodlands, which can play a hugely important role in sequestering and storing carbon. Nature can be our first line of defence against climate change if we help it recover.”