Knowledge for better food systems

Reducing UK emissions: 2018 progress report

The UK’s Committee on Climate Change has released its 2018 Progress Report to Parliament on Reducing UK Emissions. Chapter 6 focuses on agriculture and land use, land-use change and forestry. The report finds the UK agricultural emissions were unchanged between 2008 and 2016. In 2017, half of farmers did not think it was important to consider emissions when making decisions about farming practices. The forestry sector’s ability to sequester carbon has levelled off due to the average age of trees increasing relative to the past. Chapter 6 makes only passing reference to demand-side measures for agricultural emissions reductions (see Figure 6.9).

The report finds that UK greenhouse gas emissions overall are 43% lower than in 1990, mainly because of lower emissions from electricity generation, while the UK’s GDP has grown over 70% since 1990. Note, however, that these emissions figures are based only on emissions taking place in the UK, and so do not account for the emissions created by goods imported to the UK (see p32 of the report). On a consumption basis, UK emissions were roughly the same in 2015 as they were in 1997 (the earliest year for which figures are available).

Read the full report here. See also the Foodsource chapter Food systems and greenhouse gas emissions, the FCRN-WWF report How Low Can We Go? An assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from the UK food system and the scope for reduction by 2050 and the FCRN report Cooking up a storm: Food, greenhouse gas emissions and our changing climate.

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Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.

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