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'Fundamental' agriculture reforms needed for United Kingdom to reach carbon neutrality, says CCC

17 November 2018

The CCC's second report, entitled biomass in a low-carbon economy, concludes that biomass can only play the role it needs to in the UK's transition towards net-zero if stricter governance to ensure sustainable supplies is implemented. 'Maximise land use'It calls for the Government to move away from current European Union practices after Brexit to a new system where land is "maximised" as a natural store for carbon and as a regulator of natural hazards such as flooding.

"We are disappointed to see the Committee on Climate Change include that recommendation in its report".

It says the balance could be derived by a threefold increase in imports from overseas of biomass, which has been sourced sustainably.

'We must ensure our use of land helps to reduce the emissions that are warming our atmosphere.

"Climate change is also explicitly among the "public goods" listed in our Agriculture Bill that we want to pay farmers for outside the European Union", added a Defra spokesman.

A new environmental lobby has been formed, aiming to "encourage and support" government in tackling what could be "irreversible" consequences of climate change.

The CCC estimates that if its recommendations on land use were to be implemented in full, the UK's annual carbon footprint would be up to 40MTCO2e lower by 2050 than it was in 2017.

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But he also told Utility Week that the way biomass is used would have to be rationed in order to make the best use of a scarce resource.

Dr Jonathan Marshall, head of analysis at the Energy and Climate Information Unit, commented: "With the United Kingdom in a good position to lead the charge on BECCS - in which biomass burning is linked with carbon capture, resulting in net-negative emissions - this potential should not be overlooked".

The report recommends that biomass should be used mainly in power plants, combined with CCS, and aircraft with biofuels phased out in cars and vans during the 2030s.

It warns fundamental reform is needed so land can store more carbon and to cut emissions from agriculture, as well as deliver other benefits from the land such as clean water, boosting wildlife and improving productivity from richer soils. "Crucially, they point out that trying to combat climate change without biomass would be harder and more expensive".

"Well-regulated biomass can provide benefits for forestry, agriculture and our energy system, backing up technologies like wind and solar", he said.

"This, in turn, would begin to make negative emissions a reality, allowing the United Kingdom to move down the road to delivering a net zero economy and ending its contribution to climate change".

'Fundamental' agriculture reforms needed for United Kingdom to reach carbon neutrality, says CCC