Dairy Sector Climate Change Group: report

Report from the Dairy Sector Climate Change Group, one of the farmer-led groups established to develop advice and proposals for the Scottish Government. It focusses on how to cut emissions and tackle climate change, something that was re-emphasised in the updated Climate Change Plan.

1. Executive Summary

  • The Scottish Government has committed to ambitious legally binding targets to achieve net zero by 2045 to avoid global warming exceeding 2 degrees. All sectors of the economy must adapt in response, including agriculture. In doing so, agriculture can deliver benefit for the whole of society and can justify being rewarded accordingly.
  • The climate change challenge does not stand alone. It runs alongside many other, potentially competing, national and international priorities, not least feeding a growing global population with nutritious, affordable food and maintaining the people and landscapes of rural Scotland which are so valued socially and economically, as well as protecting and enhancing our biodiversity.
  • The Scottish Government's key policy tool to deliver on Climate Change is its Climate Change Plan (recently updated and referred to as CCPu). The CCPu anticipates that by 2032 the agriculture sector will have adopted and be competently using all available low emission technologies throughout the whole sector and agriculture will reduce its GHG emissions by 5.3 MtCO2e by 2032, a 31% reduction from 2018 levels.
  • We have articulated a vision for the dairy sector if the recommendations set out in this report can be embraced (which can be extended to all bovine sectors) of a sustainable forage-based milk production from a diverse range of systems, with all systems producing milk on a Carbon Positive basis by 2045: Scotland being the first country to do so. Scottish dairy farms are considered part of the solution to climate change and are highly valued for the food they produce and the environmental benefits they bring.
  • The Scottish Government should instigate an ambitious long term land use, agriculture, food and health strategy for Scotland in collaboration with all stakeholders:
  • Develop a standardised basis for data collection and establish the baseline carbon footprint of Scottish agriculture (see Section 5 Establishing the Baseline);
  • Ensure carbon footprinting is meaningful and delivers real change, facilitate farmers to complete whole farm climate reviews with accompanying management plans which unlock access to funding to enable implementation in a cost effective and efficient way (see Section 5.3 Whole Farm Climate Reviews);
  • Implement, reward and prioritise research into sequestration activities and measures (see Section 6.2 Maximising the Positive - Carbon Sequestration);
  • Engage all those who have influence on the outcomes including academia (research and innovation), farmers, advisers, banks, consumers, processors, retailers and private business and encourage public private partnerships, (see Section 8 Collective Drive for Change);
  • Scotland to be at forefront of research and innovation by establishing a Centre of Excellence, (see Section 9.1 A Centre of Excellence). This Centre of Excellence should be used, among other things, to influence national outcomes such as:
  • regularly reviewing the smart inventory to enable further mitigation measures and sequestration to be accounted for and to improve the Scottish data are captured thus allowing more efficient targeting and utilisation of public funds;
  • investigate the feasibility of a more sophisticated and equitable target system which more accurately reflects the multiple objectives delivered for society by agriculture;
  • bringing together public, private and industry expertise to accelerate the pace of innovation and research, as well as inform and educate all sectors of the industry and the wider public.
  • Adopt integrated and inclusive approach to delivery – single implementation board of industry and government to develop transformational programme for Scottish agriculture post 2024 (see Section 10.2 Opportunity)
  • Develop a Communication Strategy which sets the tone for culture change and empowers farmers to be seen as part of the solution (see Section 12 Communication).


Email: are.futureruralframework@gov.scot

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