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The Path to Net-Zero

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Welsh landowners are up for the net-zero challenge – but we need the tools and policies to deliver it.

“Welsh farmers and landowners want to achieve even more in tackling climate change. Academic studies have already established that our upland farms have the UK’s lowest carbon footprint – and they play a vital role in absorbing carbon emissions,” says CLA Cymru Director, Nigel Hollett.

“The new scheme outlined in the Welsh government’s White Paper on Agriculture offers a radical opportunity to introduce sustainable land management which encompasses productivity and regeneration in how we harness all that land can contribute to the challenge confronting the whole of society.”

“Introducing carbon-neutral facilities such as an infrastructure for electric vehicles, improving connectivity and changing business culture to further reduce travel, and also to dramatically improve building stock and how we heat it – are all very challenging. We need a supportive planning regime to let them happen, our energy infrastructure must be improved, we need strong incentives to invest and, above all, we need a workable formula for carbon offsetting – to drive all these.”

“The Climate Change Committee’s challenge to cut greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 63% across the UK economy over the next 15 years is extremely ambitious.” Nigel Hollett adds, “Here in Wales we need to understand how every sector can play its part to meet the Welsh Government’s net-zero objective. Commitment to the challenge is a given. But to reach the goal, the Committee has scaled-up the level of ambition required from the agriculture and land use sectors, calling for emission reductions in farming alongside large targets for tree planting and peatland restoration – strengthening land-use is a big part of the ‘solution’ to achieving net zero. For this to be feasible, Government policies need to be put in place to support urgent action from Welsh landowners. The Committee’s report refers to the need for private investment. We need to step-up from philanthropic contributions by enlightened landowners to a culture of widespread private investment which has the certainty of return on capital.

“Many rural businesses are already taking steps to move towards low carbon farming practices by changing the way we do things and the adoption of new technologies. Looking forward, we need an even better understanding of the science of carbon sequestration and storage. At the same time, the wider needs of both farming and nature must be considered in our wider plans to combat climate change.”