South West farming sector well placed to lead climate-friendly farming revolution in wake of IPCC report, says Green MEP

Green MEP Molly Scott Cato has said the South West is well placed to respond to the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released today, which calls for radical changes to methods of food production and consumption. The MEP, who sits on the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, says that farming in the region has huge potential to help tackle the climate crisis. The MEP believes a rapid transition towards organic farming, agro-forestry, ‘rewilding’ and restoring peatlands could ensure that agriculture in the South West becomes an important carbon sink. 

The IPCC offers a comprehensive assessment of the close links between climate change and land use. The report says that the way land is currently managed is ‘catastrophic’ for the climate but points toward the agriculture sector’s huge potential in tackling the climate emergency. The world’s leading climate scientists are calling for a move away from large-scale industrial agriculture, the elimination of food waste, an end to deforestation, a reduction in meat consumption and the restoration of damaged ecosystems.

Molly Scott Cato said:

“Today’s IPCC report acknowledges that if we are to prevent climate breakdown we must adapt land use so that agriculture becomes part of the solution rather than the problem. But we must go further and find ways of recapturing some of the emissions already in the atmosphere. The land has an extraordinary capacity to absorb and hold carbon if farmed in a climate-friendly way, and the South West, with its largely rural economy, can lead the way.   

“The IPCC recognises that intensive agriculture is resulting in high emissions and soil damage. It is also widely acknowledged that organic farming methods can restore soil health and turn land into a valuable carbon sink. The South West is already a leader in successful small-scale and organic farming so is well placed to lead a climate-friendly farming revolution. The region also has areas that could be converted to agro-forestry, be rewilded with extensive tree cover and where peatlands could be restored.

“The IPCC report is also clear on the need to reduce meat and dairy consumption. Some land can and should be converted to the growing of protein crops but as the South West is a leading livestock and dairy region, we need to ensure that these sectors focus on high quality meat and dairy products and farming methods that protect soils and ensure the highest standards of animal welfare.”