Policy actions  1 of 5

Agriculture and climate change

We are supporting the agriculture industry to reduce its emissions, to help contribute to the fight against climate change, and to adapt its practices to cope with these consequences. Our Climate Change Plan has a chapter dedicated to explaining what we are doing to reduce emissions.

We set up the Agriculture and Climate Change Strategic Group (ACCSG) to ensure that all relevant policy areas are involved in developing our approach to climate change mitigation and adaptation in agriculture. 

Greenhouse gases in agriculture

There are three main greenhouse gases produced in agriculture:

  • carbon dioxide
  • methane
  • nitrous oxide

Different greenhouse gases have different impacts on climate change, and this is known as their global warming potential (GWP). Over a 100-year period, methane’s GWP is considered to be 25 times worse than that of carbon dioxide, whereas nitrous oxide’s GWP is considered to be 298 times worse than carbon dioxide.

Methane and nitrous oxide make up over two thirds of Scottish agriculture’s total emissions. Emissions of both have fallen since 1990 due to a reduction in livestock numbers and a rise of the cost of fertilisers. But there is still a lot of room for improvement.

Reducing emissions in agriculture

There are a number of things that individual agricultural businesses can do to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions:

  • taking a holistic approach to protecting and enhancing their soil
  • optimising land use
  • tackling livestock disease
  • utilising the best technology
  • maximising input efficiency
  • turning wastes into a resource

Actions such as these will help not only to reduce emissions, but also to improve animal health and welfare, provide cleaner water and air, benefit biodiversity, increase the farm’s financial security, and improve soil quality while increasing the volume of Scotland’s carbon sink.

Agriculture can also support Scotland's efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions though sequestering carbon in woodlands and soil, and through generating its energy from renewable sources.

Initiatives we support

CarbonPositive programme

We are supporting the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS) to test the feasibility of rolling out nationally the CarbonPositive programme, which enables Scottish farm businesses to measure the tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent, meaning greenhouse gas emissions) impacts and savings from their activities and to calculate an accumulated carbon figure for their farm. This will enable farm businesses in Scotland to demonstrate the contribution they are making to mitigating climate change. SAOS will publish its report in late 2018.

The total budget for this programme will not exceed £147,600. The programme is covered under state aid regulations and has been notified to the European Commission under Article 31 of Commission Regulation (EU) No 702/2014.

Farming for a Better Climate

We are supporting Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) to help farmers to increase their resource efficiency and their profits through the Farming for a Better Climate (FFBC) initiative. FFBC highlights measures that will help farmers to use their resources more efficiently, which will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and increase their farm’s sustainability while also making their business more profitable.

FFBC organises on-farm demonstration events, seminars and conferences, and also raises awareness and knowledge exchange through publications in the farming press. It provides practical advice, guidance and case studies on the FFBC website.

The total budget for this programme will not exceed £410,000. The programme is covered under state aid regulations and has been notified to the European Commission under Article 31 of Commission Regulation (EU) No 702/2014.