Historic climate change agreement vital to make food supply more resilient – NFU

Efforts by the international farmers’ constituency over the past eight years to make agricultural production part of a comprehensive climate change agreement have been very worthwhile, the NFU has said.

The Paris Agreement was finally approved on Saturday, marking the culmination of 23 years of international argument since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Thanks to the NFU’s efforts, ‘food security’ and ‘food production’ were mentioned in the COP21 Chair’s summing-up and the final version of the text.

It’s thought this is the most significant international environmental treaty since the 1987 Montreal Protocol on ozone-depleting chemicals. It sends out an immediate signal to business, fund managers and investors worldwide that fossil fuel projects are likely to become stranded investments, and that fast-moving innovations like solar, wind power, energy storage and bioenergy are the preferred means of meeting future world energy needs.

NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “Farmers here in Britain, and indeed around the world, are on the front line of climate change. We are among the first to see the impacts of extreme weather events such as flooding and drought in our daily work. This historic agreement to tackle both the causes and effects of climate change will be vital to make our food supply more resilient.

“The food chain must support profitable farming in order to enable such agricultural adaptation, backed by the Government providing the right regulatory framework and fiscal incentives. Farmers need to be investing in their farms now to make them more ‘weather proof’ in the face of increasingly volatile weather. Better buildings, better drainage, better irrigation facilities will all be more important in the future. However we need to be aware this won’t be done if the food chain doesn’t allow farmers to make enough profit to allow for increased investment into the infrastructure of their farms.

“The NFU recognised the importance of a strong voice for agriculture at this summit. This was provided by key NFU staff such as Ceris Jones and Jonathan Scurlock who did much to help coordinate the farming presence. Accordingly it was rewarding to see the importance of agriculture name-checked in the final agreement.”

The climate change measures agreed in Paris include:

· To peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century

· To keep global temperature increase “well below” 2C (3.6F) and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C

· To review progress every five years

· $100bn a year in climate finance for developing countries by 2020, with a commitment to further finance in the future

NFU climate change adviser Dr Ceris Jones attended the two week summit in Paris and brought together farmers from all over the world including Canada, Argentina, Mexico, Jamaica, Denmark, Ireland, UK, Germany, Finland, Tunisia, Chad, Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, India, Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia and New Zealand.

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