Scottish Government must drive Just Transition towards carbon-neutral farming, urge 50 NGOs, farmers, rural groups and academics

1st January 1970

Fifty organisations, academics and individual farmers[1] including the National Farmers’ Union of Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates, Scottish Crofting Federation and Scottish Environment LINK members are calling on the Scottish Government to do more to help agriculture turn a corner and substantially reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

In a joint letter[2], the signatories urge Cabinet Secretaries Roseanna Cunningham and Fergus Ewing to support farming practices that are less damaging to our climate, putting us on a path to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by 2050.

Pete Smith, Professor of Soils and Global Change at University of Aberdeen Science and Director of Scotland’s ClimateXChange said:

‘The land sector contributes about 24% of all human greenhouse gas emissions, so action in farming needs to be part of the climate solution. By adopting this ambitious net carbon neutral target for the agricultural sector, Scotland has the opportunity to lead the world toward the goals and targets set out under the Paris Agreement.’

Jim Densham, from RSPB Scotland, said:

‘Farmers and crofters can help halt climate change by adopting carbon-neutral farming systems and practices. Such action can help farmland wildlife at the same time; the benefits go hand in hand. It’s clear there is widespread demand for Government to take action and put in place a strong suite of policies to make the transition to these systems the obvious choice for all farmers and crofters’

Pete Richie, Executive Director of Nourish Scotland and Leader of Scottish Environment LINK’s Food and Farming Subgroup, said:

‘We welcome this commitment from the farming sector and others to an ambitious long-term target to tackle climate change. All farmers, large and small, tenants and owners now need the support and knowhow to help them deliver’.

Andrew McCornick, President of NFU Scotland, said:

‘Scotland’s farmers and crofters deliver a huge amount for the environment whilst producing high quality food. With the right support, I am confident we can increase this alongside reducing our emissions and increasing our profitability. That bright future is a goal we should all unite around and I am delighted to see the widespread support it has already secured.’

Davide Johnstone, Chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said:

‘Scottish Land & Estates is pleased to support this drive towards carbon-neutral farming. No sector should be immune from our collective efforts to tackle climate change and farmers and land managers have a vital role to play. Some of the changes that we need to see will be challenging to established ways of doing things, but with the right policies in place, and the right support, advice and training, farmers and land managers can deliver a great deal.’

Individual farmers also commented:

Carey Coombs from Weston Farm[3] said: ‘Scottish farmers have always been great innovators. Given the chance they will grasp the opportunities to be at the forefront of the adoption of modern farming techniques that will integrate quality food production within balanced agri-ecological systems.’

Antonia Ineson, from Myreside Organics[4] said: ‘Addressing climate change through farming systems which protect soils, avoid the use of artificial fertilisers, and sell efficiently to local markets needs to be a key part of Scotland’s new Climate Change Bill.


For more information, please contact:
Phoebe Cochrane, Scottish Environment LINK climate change policy officer | E-mail:


[1] The full list of signatories includes:

Organisations: Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA), Biodynamic Association, Buglife Scotland, Caledonian Organic, Church of Scotland, Compassion in World Farming, Commonweal, Community Land Scotland, Cyrenians Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Food Ethics Council, Froglife Trust Scotland, Glasgow Community Food Network, Global Justice Now, National Trust for Scotland, NFU Scotland, Nourish Scotland, Organic Growers Alliance, Permaculture Scotland, Propagate, RSPB Scotland, Royal Scottish Geographic Society, Scotland the Bread, Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society, Scottish Badgers, Scottish Crofting Federation, Scottish Farming and Wildlife Advisors Group, Scottish Land and Estates, Scottish Organic Forum, Scottish Organic Producers Association (SOPA), Scottish Rural Action, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Wild Land Group, Soil Association Scotland, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, Tweed Forum, Unite Scotland, Woodland Trust & WWF Scotland.

Individuals: Professor James Curran; John B Cameron, Member, Livestock Health Scotland; Professor Dave Reay, Professor of Carbon Management, University of Edinburgh; Professor Pete Smith, Professor of Soils and Global Change, University of Aberdeen; Lorna Murray, Member of Scottish Churches Rural Group & Professor Davy McCracken, Head of SRUC’s Hill and Mountain Research Centre.

Individual farmers: Antonia Ineson, Myreside Organics Hazel Mackenzie, Shetland crofter, member of the Nature Friendly Farming Network & Michael Clarke, Dumfriesshire Farmer, member of the Nature Friendly Farming Network Carey Coombs, Farmer

[2] The letter can be accessed here.

[3] Western Farm is 350 ha livestock farm in Dunsyre. It specialises in Upland beef and sheep – pedigree beef Shorthorns and commercial Lleyn ewes.

[4] Myreside Organics is a small market garden on a longstanding mixed organic farm in Perthshire. It grows salads and vegetables for sale in the local area, through farmers markets, to restaurants and to customers who live nearby. The aim is to produce food which is sustainable, in soil which stores carbon, in a way which protects biodiversity

[5] Further background information:

• Agriculture currently contributes 22.5%1 of Scotland’s total greenhouse gas emissions and needs to bring its emissions down, along with other sectors, if we are to meet our commitments under the Paris Agreement.

• The UK Committee on Climate Change found that ‘Overall, the ambition in the agricultural sector and the focus on voluntary measures is concerning. Agriculture will need to make a greater contribution to meeting emissions targets.’

• The upcoming Scottish Climate Bill is an opportunity to bring forward new legislation to drive a change in agriculture. Consultation on the content of the Bill closed in Autumn 2017. The Bill is expected in May 2018.


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