Sixteen agricultural organisations from England, Irealnd, Scotland, New Zealand and Wales have untied to call for different treatment of short-lived gases by the IPCC:
Climate change is one of the world’s most urgent challenges and farmers are amongst the first to see its impact on food production as they deal with the increased frequency and severity of extreme weather, such as droughts and floods.
But farming offers solutions, including:
- Improving farming’s productive efficiency to reduce our GHG emissions
- Farmland carbon storage in soils and vegetation
- Boosting renewable energy and the bio-economy, to avoid GHG emissions from fossil fuels, and to create GHG removal through photosynthesis and carbon capture.
Agricultural organisations are calling on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to evaluate the more accurate global warming potential (GWP) metric of GWP*/GWP-we to measure the contribution of short-lived greenhouse gases to global warming.
All greenhouse gases aren’t equal. Fossil fuel emissions are long-lived, methane from stock is a short-lived gas.
Planting trees is just a bandaid for offsetting fossil fuel emissions, it is effective in offsetting methane emissions.
Given the scale of the climate change crisis facing the planet, we consider it vitally important that the best scientific information and tools available are being used to inform and build trust in the decisions that global and domestic policy makers are taking.
While GWP100 is the accepted metric for describing the warming impact of greenhouse gases, it is acknowledged to have shortcomings when it comes to the temperature response of short-lived emissions such as methane. GWP-we provides a more accurate measure of the behaviour of methane in the atmosphere and its net contribution to global warming.
Using metrics that inaccurately capture the contribution to warming of short-lived gases could lead to poor policy decisions. While all parts of our society must show leadership and play their part in addressing climate change, policy advice needs to reflect solutions that distinguish between the dynamics of biogenic methane and gases that persist in the atmosphere for long periods.
Too many policy decisions are based on emotion and politics, not science.
Whatever the IPCC’s decision on GHG metrics, farmers are committed to broad based action on climate change. We cannot afford to wait for more accurate measures to be developed: urgent action is needed now to improve productivity, conserve the carbon already in our pastures and grasslands, and store more carbon for the good of society.
The signatories to this call are National Farmers Union, National Farmers Union of Scotland, National Farmers Union CYMRU, National Sheep Association, Quality Meat Scotland, The Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland, Country Land and Business Association, British Meat Processors Association, Hybu Cig Cymru, Ulster Farmers Union, The Livestock and Meat Commission for North Ireland, Scottish Beef Association, Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the Meat Industry Association, and Federated Farmers.
Policy must take into account the difference between short and long lived gases, it must also take into account the value of what’s produced from what produces the emissions.
Methane, which is a by-product of food production should not be treated the same way as fossil fuel emissions from non-essential products and pursuits.