Climate Policy Dashboard - Tracking progress to deliver net zero

 

Agriculture and Land Use Sector

CONTENTS

Progress Ranking and Key Recommendations | Sector Summary | Recent Policy Developments | Further detail: CCC policy recommendations

PRE-COP26 POLICIES NOT YET RELEASED

It is essential that a range of key sectoral policies are released pre-COP26, and that they provide sufficient delivery mechanisms to get the UK on track to decarbonise the agriculture/land-use sector. These policy documents include the Environment Bill, the England Tree Strategy, the Peatland Strategy, Part 2 of the National Food Strategy and White Paper, and successful roll-out of the Environmental Land Management Pilots. With nine of the thirteen CCC policy recommendations able to be ranked at present, we provide a detailed assessment of the progress made in the agriculture/land use sector, which will be updated as further policies are announced.

 

Agriculture & Land-Use progress ranking - Insufficient/On the Way

Progress ranking and key recommendations

Progress Ranking: Insufficient/On the Way (4/10)

Key actions on the road to world-leading policy

  • A range of key policy documents have yet to be released, including the England Tree Strategy, the Peatland Strategy, Part 2 of the National Food Strategy and White Paper, as well as successful roll-out of the Environmental Land Management Pilots.
  • The Agriculture Bill, legislated in late 2020, replaces the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with a new domestic subsidy scheme, the Environmental Land Management scheme (ELM). If designed and implemented correctly, this could represent a substantial improvement on the CAP, leading to greater focus on delivery of environmental benefits.
  • Of nine recommendations for the agriculture/land-use sector that can be given a progress rating, one has been met in full, with five partially met, and three not met at all.
  1. The Government needs to introduce the Peatland Strategy, England Tree Strategy and Part 2 of the National Food Strategy as soon as possible, and as a minimum prior to COP26. These must contain the requisite ambition to put the sector on track to meet the UK's NDC, Sixth Carbon Budget and Net Zero Target. Urgent actions include:

    • Strengthening the post-CAP regulatory baseline

    • Successful roll-out of the ELM pilot schemes

    • A clear strategy to address dietary change and food waste.

Sector Summary

  • Agricultural and land-use emissions in 2019 were 67MtCO2e, or 13% of the UK total (CCC Sixth Carbon Budget, 2020). 
  • Emissions fell 1% from 2018-19 (CCC Progress Report, 2020). 
  • Of the 5 agriculture/land-use sector policy actions for 2019-20 given by the CCC, none were met in full, with two demonstrating partial progress, and three demonstrating no progress.
Agriculture and land-use represented 13% of UK Emissions in 2019
Agriculture and land-use share of territorial emissions, 2019
Source: Climate Change Committee - Sixth Carbon Budget (2020)

Recent Policy Developments

  • The Agriculture Bill was passed into law in 2020. This replaces the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with a new domestic subsidy scheme, the Environmental Land Management scheme (ELM). This will apply in England and pay farmers and land-owners for the delivery of environmental benefits. The design of this scheme is still ongoing, with pilot ELM schemes occurring in 2021, in preparation for a full rollout by 2024.
  • In the devolved administrations, Wales is considering replacing the CAP with two separate payment schemes - a 'Sustainable Farming Payment' which would pay for the delivery of environmental goods (similar to the ELM), and a second mechanism to support farm businesses. Scotland and Northern Ireland have yet to set out how the CAP will be replaced in their jurisdiction.
  • The Government has committed to planting 30,000 hectares of new woodland by 2025 (in line with CCC recommendations), and restore 35,000 hectares of peatland in England by 2025. This is ~7% of England's deep peat (the CCC recommends that 60% of upland peat is restored by 2035). This comes within a broader UK commitment to protect and improve 30% of UK Land by 2030.
  • These commitments have been supported by the £640m Nature for Climate Fund (to support tree-planting and peatland restoration) and £80m for the Green Recovery Challenge Fund (to support nature-based solutions, conservation/restoration, and connecting the public with nature).

Further detail: Policy recommendations from the CCC

#

Focus

Key Recommendation from the CCC

Government Progress

Met?

1

Strengthening the regulatory baseline to ensure low-regret measures are taken up

Need to extend existing regulation that address on-farm emissions, e.g. the Nitrates Directive should be amended to extend the coverage of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones to all of the UK

No progress has been made on extending existing regulation such as the Nitrates Directive. The Environment Bill in its current form does not address this.

 

No

2

Strengthening the regulatory baseline to ensure low-regret measures are taken up

Introduce new legislation to cover currently unregulated emission e.g. enteric fermentation from livestock, via the Clean Air Strategy

No progress has been made on introducing new regulation such on enteric fermentation from livestock. The Environment Bill in its current form does not address this.

 

No 

3

Strengthening the regulatory baseline to ensure low-regret measures are taken up

Ban on rotational burning of peatland, peat extraction, and sale of peat for horticultural use

Legislation has been announced to ban rotational burning of peatland in certain circumstances. However, the ban is only for deep peat in protected areas, which means it will only cover ~9% of England's peatland.

Partly

4

Strengthening the regulatory baseline to ensure low-regret measures are taken up

Set an obligation for water companies to restore peatland on land they own, and similarly for owners of peatland in SSSI.

Peatland Strategy yet to be released.

 

N/A

5

Funding for actions above the baseline to support more costly measures

Funding for afforestation/agro-forestry should be auctioned contracts or a carbon trading scheme, which could be privately funded. Early auction trials in 2020 were successful, but small scale. This needs to be urgently increased.

England Tree Strategy yet to be released.

 

N/A

6

Funding for actions above the baseline to support more costly measures

Public funding should be made available to encourage the non-carbon benefits of afforestation, to ensure afforestation rates beyond private demand. There should be public funding for peatland restoration as well

£640m from the Nature for Climate Fund to drive action here. While this funding is welcome, funding levels will likely need to be increased to drive sufficient action. The ELM scheme in England could also support afforestation and peatland restoration, via the Local Nature Recovery (smaller scale) and Landscape Recovery (larger-scale sites) schemes. Pilots for the Local Nature Recovery scheme are occurring in 2021, with pilots for the Landscape Recovery scheme due in 2022-2024.

Partly

7

Funding for actions above the baseline to support more costly measures

Funding needs to be made available for low-carbon farming practices which go beyond the regulatory baseline and which impose costs on farmers (e.g. robotic milking parlours)

In the Agricultural Transition Plan, there is a commitment to take the money saved by reducing Direct Payments and make this available via grants and other financial support to farmers, including for sustainability objectives. While many of these grants are for land-use change (e.g. hedgerow creation), the Farming Investment Fund for Equipment and Technology and Transformation will provide this financial support, and is open for applications in late 2021. Key to its success will be its scale and the design of the application process.

Partly

8

Funding for actions above the baseline to support more costly measures

The Government should set out a clear pathway to incentivise zero-carbon agricultural machinery and develop technology options here.

No clarity on where off-road mobile machinery will be addressed by the Government, having been omitted from the Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy.

No

9

Enabling measures to address non-financial barriers

Support schemes to strengthen skills, training and market commercialisation of innovation low-carbon farming options

The Agricultural Transition Plan announces a new skills body, the Institute for Agriculture and Horticulture. This will launch later in 2021, and will focus on skills development in the industry, including a focus on 'creating profit and protecting the planet'. Further details will be needed here to assess its potential to drive skills growth in low-carbon farming options, and there is no mention of market commercialisation

Partly

10

Enabling measures to address non-financial barriers

Address contractual arrangements that may constrain uptake on tenant farms/common land

The Agriculture Bill introduces measures to enable tenant farmers to engage in ELM schemes where a landlord with undue reason, aiming to address the issue of restrictive clauses in tenancy agreements.

Yes

11

Encouraging consumers to shift diets and reduce food waste

Should implement a strategy with low-cost low-regret options to encourage a 20% shift away from all meet by 2030, rising to 35% in 2050, and a 20% shift from dairy products by 2030.

Part 2 of the National Food Strategy and White Paper yet to be released.

 

N/A

12

Encouraging consumers to shift diets and reduce food waste

Implement a strategy to reduce food waste by 50% in 2050 and 60% in 2050, with the public sector taking a lead.

Part 2 of the National Food Strategy and White Paper yet to be released. 

N/A

13

Interim policies to avoid a hiatus in action

Interim policies should be rapidly implemented to avoid a hiatus in action while designing the post-CAP long-term regulatory framework (e.g. ELMs will have full rollout in 2024, but funding needs to be available for sustainable land-use prior to this)

The Agricultural Transition Plan makes provision for this, e.g. committing that the phasing out of Direct Payments will be replaced by equivalent level of financial support for farming business and sustainability provisions.


In addition to this, DEFRA has updated the Countryside Stewardship Scheme for 2022. This agri-environmental scheme should go some way to covering the gap between current support schemes and the full roll-out of the ELM. Similarly, the Government has committed to producing an interim Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) to cover some gaps between removing the EU's environmental framework and introducing a UK framework via the Environment Bill.

Partly

Previous Sector: Manufacturing | Return to Dashboard Homepage | Next Sector: Buildings