The Bartlett


UK agriculture: Pathways to net zero

15 April 2021

A new report by UCL academics and released by HSBC UK today, states that farmers need to be prepared to take action now in order to achieve Net Zero in the agriculture sector by 2050.

Hay bales in field blur

The report, UK Agriculture: Pathways to Net Zero which was led by Dr Carole Dalin (UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources), examines the importance of reducing net agriculture emissions of greenhouse gases and how farmers can achieve this through changes to farm management.

The agricultural sector is both vulnerable to climate change and a strong candidate for mitigation and adaptation. Government, regulators and consumers are increasing demands to implement sustainable practices to reduce emissions. This presents a unique challenge to farmers who need to maintain productivity and profitability from their core activity as food producers whilst also navigating changes in support levels and regulations post-Brexit.

The research shows that a long-term focus on sustainability is needed and farmers must have a better understanding of their farm’s sustainability performance. Likewise, in order for the government to achieve their goal of net zero by 2050, a detailed investment plan is needed for farmers.

The report finds that farmers are making progress towards net zero but to achieve these ambitions there needs to be a co-ordinated effort from the whole industry, government and financial institutions to make significant changes to the sector.

HSBC UK recently launched a £1.2bn fund for the agriculture sector as part of its nationwide SME Fund to support businesses as they bounce back from the pandemic.

Dr Carole Dalin, Principal Research Fellow at the University College London and lead author of the study, said:

We are at a crucial turning-point for agri-food systems worldwide, and the UK has the opportunity to lead in showing how the sector can transform to benefit farmers, consumers and life-supporting ecosystems. Appropriately-scaled knowledge and financial support will be key to enable farmers to successfully transition their activities towards Net Zero, in ways that make their lands and income more resilient and sustainable.”

Further information

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay