Farming and food can be part of the solution rather than the problem, says Green MEP in wake of IPCC report

In the wake of the new IPCC report on climate change launched today, Molly has called for rapid changes in farming methods to reduce the sector’s considerable greenhouse gas emissions. Molly, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, has said that making organic and sustainable farming methods the norm can transform farming from a major emitter of greenhouse gases to becoming a sector which can capture up to 100% of global annual carbon emissions in soils and plants. She has said that urgent reforms to Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy and the UK’s Agriculture Bill can help drive such a transition.

She said: 

“The IPCC report puts the world on notice. We have limited time left to prevent climate breakdown. But their report makes clear that changing the way we use land and produce food is key to tackling climate change. This will also improve soil quality, biodiversity and animal welfare.

“Our soils have an extraordinary capacity to absorb and hold carbon if land is farmed and used in the right ways. A recent study which looked at farming systems and pasture trials revealed that we could capture up to 100% of current annual carbon emissions by switching to organic management practices. The other great advantage of using soils to hold carbon is that this is a low-cost solution, not an expensive techno-fix.  

“The report is also clear that we must stop ripping up our forests to make way for agriculture. Instead we need to increase afforestation and reforestation. In an agricultural context this means a move towards agro-forestry where farming incorporates the growing of trees.

“But it is clear that transforming our food and farming sectors so they are part of the solution rather than part of the problem requires political will. In Europe the Common Agriculture Policy and in the UK the Agriculture Bill must drive the transition towards organic and sustainable farming practices so that twenty years from now these are the norm not the exception.”  

Alongside a transition in land use and farming methods, Molly Scott Cato called for a move towards plant-based diets. She said:

“Greenhouse gas emissions from livestock are estimated to account for around 15% of the global total [3]. This is an area where as consumers we can take individual action by consuming less meat and dairy and replacing these with plant-based alternatives.”