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Hutton expertise contributes to proposed climate change Scottish legislation

Professor Colin Campbell speaks during the ECCLR evidence session
"Researching how we alter our systems and develop new systems of agricultural production using agroecological principles, is very aligned with the need to mitigate our greenhouse gas emissions"

Ways to achieve the ambitious greenhouse emission targets, as described in the proposed Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets) (Scotland) Bill, were at the centre of discussions during a session of the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee of the Scottish Parliament, to which experts of the James Hutton Institute and other stakeholders gave evidence.

The proposed legislation changes the target for reducing all greenhouse gas emissions to 90% by 2050, from the current target of 80%. Greenhouse gases trap heat in the earth's atmosphere and cause climate change; reducing these gases will limit the problems that come with climate change.

The draft bill explains how annual targets will be set, stipulating a target of 100% reduction in emissions to be set in the future, and an obligation to monitor and report progress towards meeting targets.

Representing SEFARI, Hutton Chief Executive Professor Colin Campbell said: “Scottish institutes have been researching climate change and the issues around it for a long time, and we can now think again about how we approach the subject.

“The situation is quite challenging in the area of the environment, food and agriculture, where there have not been huge improvements in the past eight to ten years. We need new ways of thinking. A huge amount of research is being done on improving the efficiency of our agriculture and food production systems, which is very aligned with the work to meet our greenhouse gas emission targets, but most of the improvements that we are talking about are incremental.

“Researching how we alter our systems and develop new systems of agricultural production using agroecological principles, is very aligned with the need to mitigate our greenhouse gas emissions.

“We need to have even more transformative ways of doing things and to come up with new ideas about how we grow food.”

Professor Campbell went on to say there was a great need for a just transition in relation to land use change if we are to have the transformative shift that is required to meet the climate change targets.

“It takes a long time to develop land to full productivity and maintain it at that level. Livestock is under a lot of pressure, particularly from trees, but there are transition land use approaches that we could look at, such as agroforestry, in which trees are spaced out to allow sheep to graze. In fact, because the trees provide them with shelter in the spring and autumn, sheep can have a better energetic balance, which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

“In other countries such as Sweden, people are farmers in the spring, summer and autumn and foresters in the winter time, but here we train people to be either farmers or foresters, not land use managers. We need to do a lot of transition work around the culture as well as the methods, skills and knowledge that people will need in future in relation to types of transition land use.

“Farmers are not just farmers; they manage our landscapes and the ecosystem services that we get from our land, and we need to think carefully about the consequences of, say, land abandonment. Just transition in land use is a huge topic for the agricultural sector.”

The full session can be watched online on the Scottish Parliament TV website, and the draft bill is also available for public consultation.

More information from: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).


Printed from /news/hutton-expertise-contributes-proposed-climate-change-scottish-legislation on 25/08/19 07:53:02 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.