ULSTER Farmers’ Union president Victor Chestnutt and parliamentary officer Alexander Kinnear attended the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow (November 2-4), rising awareness of how UK agriculture is part of the climate change solution.
A joint stand was shared with the National Farmers’ Union, NFU Scotland and NFU Cymru.
Mr Chestnutt said: “UK agriculture is a uniquely versatile sector, which supplies food, captures and stores carbon and helps to generate clean energy – it is a key part of the climate change solution.
“A message which we reiterated alongside our UK farming union counterparts during our visit to COP26.
“We were very disappointed to see how little presence the UK Government gave agriculture at the event considering farming is such a crucial part.
“Nevertheless, our presence at COP26 was extremely important as we represented our members across NI who are already contributing significantly to the UK target of net zero by 2050, and they recognise this can be improved further with the right policy backed by scientific evidence.
“This is essential to continue making positive progress in combating climate change here in NI and the UK as a whole, supporting our local farmers to play their vital part without lessening their ability to produce quality, sustainable products to world leading standards.”
Mr Chestnutt chaired the UNFCC side event ‘Agriculture’s ambition – delivering food security, resilience and mitigation in a changing climate’, with the UK farming unions and agriculture organisations from Germany, Canada and Africa.
Discussions were also had with DAERA Minister Edwin Poots and the Irish Farmers’ Association president.
He added: “It was good to see the DAERA Minister representing NI at COP26. We had further discussions about the need for a climate change bill that supports local farming and food security in NI.
“The DAERA Minister’s Bill, which is currently at the scrutiny stage, has taken the advice of the Climate Change Committee on board proposing an ‘ambitious but achievable target’ of reaching at least 82 per cent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in NI by 2050 – minus the threat of wiping out our agri food industry in the process unlike the Private Member’s Bill.
“We also met with IFA president Tim Cullinan and discussed a range of issues and the importance of supporting one another as we move forward,” said Mr Chestnutt.