Memorandum submitted by the Country Land
and Business Association (U37)
1. The CLA welcomes the opportunity to give
evidence to the Efra select committee on the challenges of future
climate change. We are a membership organisation, representing
40,000 rural land managers and business, who between them own
and manage about half of the rural land in England and Wales.
Their interests vary between agricultural and other rural businesses,
to woodlands, biodiversity and recreation. All land-based industries
are, and will continue to be, literally on the front line of climate
changewe therefore have a great interest in any new climate
change policies that arise through the review of the climate change
programme. Our publication on Climate Change and the Rural
Economywww.cla.org.uk/climate addresses climate change
from a land management and rural business perspective.
2. We recognise that agriculture and land
use change emit a proportion of the total emissions of greenhouse
gases through the tillage of the soil, the keeping of livestock
and the application of nitrogen fertilisers all part of
the everyday activities of farming. Changes in the CAP will undoubtedly
have a positive effect on these emissions through de-coupling
of payments with production, and linking them to environmental
3. Whilst this will go along way to reducing
emissions from rural land use it should be recognised that there
is much more potential for rural land to contribute to the debate,
in particular by providing renewable energy and by storing carbon
in soils and timber.
4. Renewable energy has enormous potential
to reduce UK GHG emissions, given the right policy framework.
If the UK is to meet its Kyoto commitments, and go further to
address the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Environmental
Pollution (RCEP) for deep and lasting cuts in GHG emissions, policy
action is required on all fronts. RCEP has recently published
a report on the failure of the biomass sector to deliver, pointing
the finger firmly at a lack of joined up thinking in Government.
Moreover, choosing renewable transport fuels offers an environmentally
friendly way of reducing the impact of car use, without attacking
the motorist. For more detail on CLA policies for renewable energy
see the Annex.
5. Climate change policies have so far mainly
concentrated on reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs). We advocate
a twin track approach of emission reductions and the use of carbon
sinks to reduce these gases. To date, there has been little research
done on storing carbon on rural land, in soil, timber, hedgerows
and field margins and we consider that much more should be done.
It has great potential not only to reduce carbon, but also have
a knock on positive effect on soil organic matter and therefore
the stability of soil, which in turn reduces its erodability.
As rainfall is expected to become more intense and more frequent,
the ability of soil not to erode will become an important issue
for water qualityie in terms of sediment, nutrients and
pesticides entering water courses. The aim of the Water Framework
Directive to reach good status by 2015 could therefore be jeopardised
by climate change: soil, water and climate change policies must
be joined up to recognise this. Furthermore, to appreciate how
important soil carbon is, consider that globally soil contains
1.5x1,012 tonnes of carbonglobal emission of carbon from
fossil fuels and land use change are only 0.5% of that figure.
Hence only small changes in soil carbon are needed to have a profound
effect on carbon emission. This is of concern as temperatures
are expected to increase in the future which will release more
carbon emissions from soilsoil management is therefore
key, and more research and technology transfer through advice
and incentives to land managers is needed.
6. The CLA is developing the Greenhouse
Gas Audit for land managers, which calculates the GHG emissions
on farm and balances them against the amount sequestered in timber
and soil. As well as giving an assessment of the GHG balance on
farm, it will also raise awareness of GHG and climate change amongst
land managers and can be used to highlight where they could be
more efficient, for example in applying nitrogen fertiliser to
reduce nitrous oxide emissions, and where they could reduce their
emissions through soil and timber management.
7. We consider that more research is needed
on how to reduce the methane emissions of livestock as this is
a large contributor to agricultural GHG emissions.
8. There is as yet a largely unrecognised
potential of land management, which is to mitigate the negative
impacts of climate change, such as flooding, and isolation of
biodiversity. Land managers have a great deal to offer, for example,
washlands which reduce urban flooding downstream; and biodiversity
corridors to allow wildlife to move as the temperature rises.
However the right policy framework for these measures to work
efficiently does need to be in place. Below we set out examples
of land management activities which would help to mitigate negative
effects that arise from future climate change.
9. It is expected that water will become
increasingly diminishing resource at some times of the year in
certain areasLand managers could be encouraged to construct
reservoirs to ensure water security for their businesses and national
food security, as well as possibly being a source of public water
supply in times of drought.
10. Soil is vital to biodiversity, acts
as a carbon sink, retains water and underpins food production.
Policies that promote sound soil management are essential to the
nation's sustainability. There is considerable potential to utilise
soil as a carbon sink and an immediate priority should be to support
soil management practices to sequester carbon.
11. By 2010, greenhouse gas emissions from
UK agriculture and forestry are expected to have reduced by 23%
compared with their 1990 levels, reflecting structural change
in farming and change in land use. Arable and livestock farmers
could be encouraged to complete an on-farm greenhouse gas audit
if provided with advise and information which could assist them
in reducing their on-farm emissions.
12. Climate change has significant implications
for all energy producers and users. There is huge potential for
carbon-neutral renewable energies, such as biomass (eg short rotation
coppice, oilseed rape and perennial grasses) and wind, to take
the place of the non-renewable fossil fuels. Effective support
for the growth and use of renewable energy systems, including
transport fuel, is a priority.
13. Forestry can directly mitigate climate
change by acting as a carbon sink, and indirectly by substituting
quality timber for other more energy-intensive materials. Priorities
for action include supporting forest management practices to sequester
carbon and the growing and use of quality timber in place of synthetic
14. Inundation, whether by the sea or rivers,
puts agricultural land, property and important wildlife habitats
at risk. Priorities should be to develop incentives for managed
realignment of the coast and managed re-creation of floodplains,
primarily as tools to control flooding and to complement schemes
designed primarily for environmental benefit.
15. Climate change is expected to increase
the vulnerability of some species and habitats. Land managers
can play an active part in mitigating those adverse effects by
providing wildlife corridorssupported through agri-environment
schemesto allow wildlife to migrate northwards and adapt