Academic Advisory Panel minutes: 5 May 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 5th May 2023.

Items and actions

Climate change plan: LULUCF and interactions with agriculture, and adaptation to agricultural practice: climate change and climate-positive and nature-positive agriculture.

  1. Welcome and introductions 

Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting, noting the 24 February Academic Advisory Panel meeting summary and with a request for any comments on papers. The summary of the meeting was accepted and signed off by members of the Panel. Minutes were sent to ARIOB mailbox for circulation.

A question was raised by a Panel member about how to improve the information flow between the AAP, ARIOB and the Cabinet Secretary. A suggestion was made that ways for more direct engagement between the Panel and ARIOB should be sought. The Panel was informed that ARIOB and AAP secretariats will be meeting on a monthly basis going forward in order to improve sharing of information, reporting of outputs and alignment of priorities. However, due to differences in work schedule of both groups slight misalignment could be expected. 

  1. Climate change plan: LULUCF and interactions with agriculture.

Two pieces of work connected to the Just Transition work and the Land Use Change modelling were presented to the Panel. Both focused on their relationship to the Agricultural Reform Programme. The Just Transition was defined as both the outcome – a fairer, greener future for all – and the process that must be undertaken in partnership with those impacted by it. It is important to ensure that throughout the process wider socio-economic impacts to agriculture, rural community and economy are considered. Benefits and limitations of the Land Use Change and Agricultural Systems (LUCAS) model used by RESAS were presented. The model was developed to provide an assessment of the cross system impacts of the LULUCF scenarios on agricultural system indicators. This work aims to highlight how the land and agricultural systems are interlinked, and important trade-offs that will have to be considered when designing policy.

The discussion raised the following points:

  • vision of the future land use in Scotland – the Just Transition and Climate Change Plans (CCP) need to be well integrated to deliver clear outcomes and bring benefits to the rural economy at the national and local level  
  • long term plans should be laid out outlining benefits, negative impacts and trade-offs associated with transition and clear prioritisation of those should be undertaken. This approach should be flexible and adaptable as circumstances may change in transition to 2045 targets. Clear communication of plans and their national and regional implications including time dependency should be adopted. Adjustment for unintended consequences may be required
  • adjustment costs needed to meet new requirements will have largest impact on the managers of large areas of land. Others will see small incremental changes. The Government should take a view on how to best help people with this process
  • incentives are required to enable change. There should be a balanced mix of economic incentives and regulatory requirements adopted to reach the desired policy targets
  • good understanding of rural skills and jobs aligned to Just Transition and CCP is required. The workforce in the agricultural sector need to see a future with good pay and conditions
  • the LUCAS model would benefit from sense-checking of both, data used for modelling and rationality of the results that it produces. Checks can be done via ground-truthing or exposure to an expert panel
  1. Adaptation to agricultural practice: climate change and climate-positive and nature-positive agriculture.

The Panel was provided with copies of two studies related to behavioural change, and attitudes and drivers of behaviour in the Scottish agricultural sector conducted by ClimateXChange and the James Hutton Institute (JHI). The JHI research was also summarised in a short presentation which was delivered to the Panel during the meeting.

Climatic changes seen in the environment are starting to affect farmers. Changes required to address those will require transition of agricultural practice. Just informing farmers on what are they expected to do does not directly lead to adaptation to new practice. Drivers influencing behaviour are complex and multifaceted and lack of certainty with what the future will look like will make adaptation of practice difficult to introduce.

Below is a summary of the main points raised by the AAP during the discussion that followed the presentation.

  • to enable change to be successful design of expected routes should be easy, attractive, social, and timely: EAST. Complex data and ideas are difficult to engage with. Long wait times are increasing costs associated with the process
  • farm Advisory Service and advisory support should reflect what is expected from farm managers. Specific guidance will help to deliver the outcomes. Monitor farms as well as peer to peer learning have significant role to play when introducing change
  • engagement should target a wide range of farming businesses and should be tailored to audiences taking the scale of business into consideration. Small businesses may find access to advice more challenging therefore the process needs to be equitable
  • need to change should be recognised not only by the farmers but by the whole supply chain. Consumers should also play a role in the process
  • increase in uptake of basic requirements such as animal welfare or nutrient management plans is important when addressing climate change targets. It is important to present a clear message that failure to fulfill those requirements could result in failed farm audit and, in the worst case, a loss of business
  1. AOB

No issues raised.

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