Westminster Column - Climate Change

11th October 2019

In London this week protestors sought to shut down parts of the capital to draw attention to climate change. Local Extinction Rebellion members last weekend had made a point of declaring their position calmly in Ludlow, ahead of the protests in London.

While many of us are working to tackle climate change head on, there is little doubt the extreme actions of some protestors risk doing more to put people off than encourage wider discussion.

Regular readers of this column will know that I am committed to doing my bit to ensure South Shropshire can play a role in helping the UK move towards net zero emissions by 2050.

On Tuesday I spoke in the House of Commons in a debate on net zero emissions, and I scrutinise government efforts to tackle climate change through the Environmental Audit Committee.

In Manchester last week, I spoke to NFU leaders about what more the farming sector can do to combat greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon capture and storage through changing land use, while retaining a productive viable British farming industry. The NFU have endorsed an ambitious plan to ensure farming reaches net zero by 2040, which as a farmer myself, I fully support.

Technology and productivity will play a key role. For example, UK dairy cattle numbers are now around 1 million, down from 2 million 20 years ago, producing 30% more milk yield. So greater productivity, from fewer herds, but also less with fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

The UN’s Food & Agriculture Organisation estimate there are some 278 million dairy cattle worldwide. If they were all as productive as the UK, it would take only 70 million to produce the same amount of milk. So agritech can make a huge difference – like specialist feed to reduce methane emissions, or precision fertiliser applications that increase yields with fewer chemicals.

In showing we can reduce emissions while feeding the growing global population and growing our economy we can show developing nations, where the battle against climate change needs to be won, that clean growth is possible. Since 1990, the UK has cut emissions by more than 40 per cent while growing the economy by more than two thirds, the best performance on a per person basis than any other G7 nation. But we can and must go further.

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