Knowledge for better food systems

Land use: Reducing emissions and preparing for climate change

Current land use patterns in the UK are not sustainable, according to this report from the UK’s Committee on Climate Change. The report claims that, if current farming trends continue, there will not be enough land in the UK to both meet future settlement needs and maintain current levels of per capita food production. The report also predicts significant negative effects of climate change on soils, water, vegetation and wildlife.

These are some of the report’s conclusions:

  • Using better soil and livestock management could reduce emissions, but still leave agriculture as one of the largest emitting sectors.
  • Deep emissions cuts, roughly 35-80% by 2050 compared to 2016, would require increasing forest cover, restoring peatlands, catchment-sensitive farming and agricultural diversification.
  • Land can be released for other uses through changing both production and consumption patterns, e.g. using government guidelines to reduce consumption of beef, lamb and dairy.
  • Land managers should be supported with skills, training and information to switch to new land uses.

Read the full report here and see media coverage here: Climate change: Report says 'cut lamb and beef' (BBC). See also the Foodsource resource Food systems and greenhouse gas emissions.

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Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.

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