Finding a Role Battling Climate Change

UK - By Chris Harris, Senior Editor, ThePoultrySite. Farmers have a large role to play in combating climate change, according to energy minister Malcolm Wicks.
calendar icon 21 February 2008
clock icon 4 minute read

He told the NFU conference that is has a role in meeting climate change targets and increasing energy security.

"But this is far more than just hitting targets. It's about preserving our environment, helping to assure our rural future by both adapting to change and grasping the opportunities that change presents," Mr Wicks said.

He said the UK is showing strong leadership on climate change.

It is the first country in the world to set legally binding budgets for its carbon dioxide emissions for every period up to 2050.

"The Climate Change Bill sets a clear framework to achieve our long-term target of a 60 pere cent cut in the UK's CO2 emissions by that date, and has set up the Climate Change Committee to advise us on the budgets," he said.

He said that biomass, as laid down in the government 2007 Biomass Strategy will have a large role to play in meeting climate change targets.

"Biomass resources can be used for a range of energy applications including heat, electricity generation, combined heat and power, the production of gaseous and liquid fuels for transport," Mr Wicks said.

"Biomass has significant potential to contribute to renewable electricity and carbon abatement. Currently almost five per cent of our electricity comes from renewable energy sources with biomass providing around half of that supply."

Another part of the European Union's Renewable Energy Directive is the demands for member countries to source more transport fuel from biofuels.

"There is a proposal for an EU-wide target for each member states to source 10 per cent of petrol and diesel from renewable sources such as biofuels.

"Again, this has the potential to impact upon land usage in British farming, indeed worldwide farming," said Mr Wicks.

He added that other forms of energy are going to become more prevalent in the future such as wind farms and anaerobic digestion units on farms - for which there will be strong support for farmers.

The Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg also warned the farmers about the need to tackle climate change issues.

"Climate change is big news for farmers," said Mr Clegg.

"You could bear the brunt of the devastating effects of global warming.

"Climate change will bring unpredictable weather - floods, drought, storms, heatwaves, late frosts and more that we cannot foresee or prepare for.

"Planning ahead across the seasons and years will get harder and harder.

"And new pests and diseases will find a home in our crops and livestock."

He added: "As you work to reduce some of the damaging effects farming can have.

"With seven per cent of Britain's greenhouse gases coming from farming, we cannot postpone dealing with the problem."

Mr Clegg said that farmers can help by growing certain kinds of sustainable biofuels.

"You can help with more sensitive management of floodplains - and government should support you in weed-dredging work and drainage," he said.

"You can help reduce soil impaction in uplands, reducing the flood risk to lower, urban areas, too.

"And you can dramatically reduce the impact of farming by reducing nitrous oxide emissions, in particular through anaerobic digestion."

Mr Clegg added: "Why on earth is the government devoting all their efforts and energies to a new generation of nuclear power stations?

"It would make far more sense to support small renewable energy projects like AD on a far larger scale.

"And support for AD would be far more effective in cutting nitrous oxide than just imposing the impossible and ineffective regulations for Nitrate Vulnerable Zones."

Mr Clegg said he wanted to support farmers in their stewardship of the land, and he wanted to get out of the way so they can get on with the business of growing and rearing our food.

Further Reading

More information - You can view Mr Wicks' full speech by clicking here.

Further Reading

More information - You can view Mr Clegg's full speech by clicking here.
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