Amendment 100

Agriculture Bill - Report (3rd Day) – in the House of Lords at 9:30 pm on 22nd September 2020.

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Baroness Jones of Whitchurch:

Moved by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch

100: After Clause 42, insert the following new Clause—“Contribution of agriculture and associated land use to climate change targets(1) In performing functions under this Act, the Secretary of State must have due regard to—(a) the target for 2050 contained in section 1 of the Climate Change Act 2008, and (b) international climate change treaties to which the United Kingdom is a signatory, including the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.(2) Within 6 months of the day on which this Act is passed, the Secretary of State must by regulations introduce an interim target for 2030 which would provide for agriculture and associated land use to reduce and sequester climate change emissions in a manner commensurate with meeting the target for 2050.(3) Within 12 months of the day on which this Act is passed, the Secretary of State must lay before Parliament a strategy outlining the policies Her Majesty’s Government will pursue to meet the interim target for 2030.(4) Before fulfilling the requirements under subsections (2) and (3), the Secretary of State must—(a) consult the devolved authorities, and(b) obtain, and take into account, the advice of the Committee on Climate Change.(5) Regulations under subsection (2) are subject to affirmative resolution procedure.(6) In this section—“Committee on Climate Change” means the body established under section 32 of the Climate Change Act 2008;“devolved authorities” has the meaning outlined in section 40 of this Act.”

Photo of Baroness Jones of Whitchurch Baroness Jones of Whitchurch Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baronesses, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb and Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, and the noble Lord, Lord Randall of Uxbridge, for adding their support to this amendment.

Our amendment would require the Government when applying this Act to have due regard to their national and international obligations set out in the Climate Change Act 2008 and the Paris Agreement. It also requires the Government within six months to set an interim target for 2030, setting out how agriculture and land use could play their part in reducing and sequestrating emissions. This would be followed within 12 months by a strategy setting out how this will be achieved. We have additionally required the Government to obtain and take account of the advice of the Committee on Climate Change.

There are very good reasons why these steps are necessary. Climate change is a global challenge, and the UK has an obligation to play its part. The Government’s commitment to net zero by 2050 is welcome as far as it goes, but noble Lords will know that we are way behind in meeting the fourth, fifth and sixth carbon budgets that would make the commitment a reality.

To be successful, every sector must play its part, whether it is energy, transport, housing or, in this case, agriculture, which is currently responsible for about 10% of total emissions. So we welcome the addition in Clause 1(1)(d) of the Bill that financial assistance can be given for

“managing land, water or livestock in a way that mitigates or adapts to climate change.”

But what does this mean if there is no strategy and no targets to deliver it? As the Committee on Climate Change points out in its report this year,

“the current voluntary approach has failed to cut agricultural emissions, there has been no coherent policy to improve the resilience of the agricultural sector, and tree planting has failed outside Scotland.”

This is pretty damning, and it is why our amendment seeks to deliver legislation and a mechanism for detailed policy design, which the committee recommends is necessary to deliver the transformation that is needed. Even the Government’s own progress report on implementing the 25-year environment plan, published in June, shows emissions of greenhouse gases from natural resources in a downward negative trend, with agricultural emissions remaining stagnant. So overall we seem to be going backwards.

In her response to similar amendments in Committee, the Minister tried to put a more positive gloss on progress, citing efficiency gains in dairy and pork. I am sure that that is good progress and we welcome that. But you cannot cherry pick when the Government’s own analysis is saying overall that there are different trends.

In her response, the Minister also argued for a generalist approach to climate change, saying that we do not have sector-specific targets under the Climate Change Act. That is true, but all the steps that the Government have taken since are focused on actions by different departments—for example, in renewable energy, electric cars and housing retrofit. Despite the criticisms of the Natural Capital Committee for the lack of meaningful metrics, even the 25-year environment plan also aims to have specific targets. So agriculture must step up and play its part in reducing emissions.

The Paris Agreement requires signatories to set long-term climate plans as well as shorter-term 2030 goals. This is why we have included an interim 2030 target in our amendment. Meanwhile, the Committee on Climate Change has written to the Defra Minister, Victoria Prentis, setting out how ELMS could be shaped to meet our climate change obligations. It has identified four important areas that need to be addressed and has offered to support Defra in setting out how climate change risks can be incorporated in the delivery of the ELMS outcomes.

We welcome this offer of help and support, which is why we have specified in our amendment that the advice of the Committee on Climate Change should be taken into account. We believe that the amendment is central to delivering the Government’s aspiration of net zero and ensuring that the farming sector plays its full part.

We had hoped to meet Ministers or their civil servants to discuss the progress being made in other departments. For example, we particularly welcomed the Government’s addition to the recent Pensions Bill, requiring pension trustees to take account of the Paris obligations. But, sadly and uncharacteristically, we had no response to our letter last week. So, unless a positive response is given today, I have no option but to give notice that I might divide the House. In the meantime, I beg to move.

Photo of Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Green 9:45 pm, 22nd September 2020

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, has laid out the need for this amendment with great clarity, and perhaps I can inject a little bit of the emotion that this amendment gives rise to for me. Earlier, I said that the amendment on food standards was probably the most important one, but in fact, this is of course the most important from a long-term point of view because it is all about survival. I am trying to save the planet and the people on it; even the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, is part of the group that I want to save—from itself, really.

We know that farming is a massive source of greenhouse gas emissions, and it is likely to grow as a percentage of our emissions as we decarbonise other parts of the economy. Therefore, it is going to get worse and worse if we do not have a clear plan for how to go forward. For me, this Government have shown no urgency; I cannot convey the urgency I feel when I think about what is happening to our planet and the destruction caused by our burning fossil fuels. The Government have not shown any logical trajectory towards zero carbon emissions; they are just dabbling, with a good idea here and an idea there that is probably not quite so good. There is no coherent vision.

The Government have to start budgeting carbon in exactly the same way that they budget money. I realise that budgets are out of the window at the moment due to the coronavirus, but the fact is that we do need to think about it like that and say that, if we allow one area to have more carbon, we have to decrease it in another. Actually, the Green Party has been calling for a “carbon chancellor”: somebody who can take an overall look at this issue, understand how the systems and the economy work and try to make a coherent plan.

This Bill has been bouncing around for three years now and has been delayed several times. It was written two years before the Government adopted a net-zero carbon emissions target, which means that we need to update it because it does not reflect the new net-zero target that the Government have set themselves. Amendment 100 is a genuinely cross-party amendment and will set British farming on a trajectory towards net-zero emissions. We desperately need it, and I very much hope that the Government will listen.

Photo of Lord Randall of Uxbridge Lord Randall of Uxbridge Conservative

My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble Baronesses, Lady Jones of Whitchurch and Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb. The hour is late, but it is also late for our planet. While I do not take quite such a pessimistic view of the Government’s actions in this field as the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb—in fact, they should be congratulated in many respects—for many of us, things are not moving fast enough, and we need to encapsulate some of this in the Bill.

I agree that the NFU has brought forward its own ideas, but there is a lot more to this. For example, I know that Defra is looking at the issue of burning blanket bogs, but surely, under ELMS, we will not be able to give money to land managers who consistently burn peat bogs. That should also be part of the Bill.

I will not detain noble Lords any longer. I support the amendment and I recognise that the Government have taken steps towards it. Perhaps we are too impatient, but we need to get on with it.

Photo of Lord Krebs Lord Krebs Chair, Food, Poverty, Health and Environment Committee, Chair, Food, Poverty, Health and Environment Committee

My Lords, this amendment has been most ably introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch. I want to briefly re-emphasise the reasons why I strongly support it. As the noble Baroness said, agriculture has to play its part in meeting our net-zero commitment. At the moment, as she also said, agriculture may account for only some 10% of UK emissions, but by 2050, if nothing is done about agriculture and other parts of our economy play their part, it could account for about a third.

In earlier debates, the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, referred to an excellent new book by Professor Bridle entitled Food and Climate Change Without the Hot Air. Professor Bridle expresses the challenge by calculating that, at the moment, the average daily food-related greenhouse gas footprint for each of us in the UK is six tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalence. To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, we need to halve emissions by 2030. In other words, if food and agriculture are to play their part, the footprint of every one of us has to go down from six to three tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalence per day within 10 years.

We have already heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch, that the climate change committee has repeatedly reported that agriculture and land use are not making their required contribution to our greenhouse gas emissions reductions. This leaves an intolerable burden on other sectors, as the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, has already said. I will share a different quote from the climate change committee’s 2020 report to Parliament:

“Agriculture and land use, land-use change and forestry … have … made little progress.”

It concludes that there has been no net change in emissions over 10 years, and no coherent policy framework to deliver change.

The noble Lord, Lord Randall of Uxbridge, referred to peat bogs. Last Sunday’s Observer reported that there are currently no plans to stop burning peat bogs this autumn. Peat bogs are a major carbon store and burning them releases significant amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Surely, if the Government are serious about their green credentials and about reducing greenhouse gas emissions from land use and agriculture, they should ban this burning now.

Agriculture is not delivering the necessary greenhouse gas reductions. This Bill is the chance to change that and ensure that the right policies are put in place. The Climate Change Act is, in the argot of the day, an oven-ready framework within which to place both agricultural emissions reduction targets and climate adaptation to make our future agriculture resilient to climate change. That is why we need to support this amendment.

Photo of Lord Inglewood Lord Inglewood Non-affiliated

My Lords, in my capacity as chairman of the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership and as a member of the Cumbria Leadership Board, I have recently been involved in debates about carbon in that county. One of the things that concerns me is the debate around emissions which, inevitably, is not quite as simple as one might expect at first blush.

It is clear, however, that any strategy has to begin with where we are now. It must also recognise that it is almost inevitable that those with some kind of an interest are inclined to engage in special pleading. In the case of agriculture, I know that farming contributes; I am a farmer, and I know that my farm does. However, farmers, including myself, have to react and deal with what may be the considerable and costly implications of the appropriate response. As has already been said by one of the Baroness Joneses, the first thing is to have agreed metrics, and then to use them impartially to map the journey into the future, based on the information they give us.

Business accounts are compiled with agreed metrics and standards to present a true picture of the underlying economic activity. The same must be true with carbon accounting. I fear I may sound like a cracked record but, once again, the economic implications and consequences of effecting change must not destroy the agricultural industry and other rural land uses. As the Financial Times pointed out last weekend, the economic future for much of the UK industries in these sectors looks pretty parlous.

In the case of rural land uses, a number of activities are natural carbon sinks and cleaners. Those responsible for the framework of the new world must give proper financial recognition for that. In many cases, what they are doing now is being done for nothing, both for the general benefit of the wider public and the financial advantage of the polluters. Were polluters to actually have to pay, it not only would be a major step towards reducing emissions elsewhere but would help underpin the rural economy, parts of which are pretty fragile and part of left-behind Britain. The short truth of the matter is that insolvent businesses cannot deliver a brave new world in rural Britain. Furthermore, if that happens, a great deal of what we have been considering over the past days and weeks will turn out to have been pure fantasy. It is as simple as that.

Photo of Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Conservative

My Lords, I welcome Amendment 100 and echo many of the sentiments in it, but pay regard to the role that farmers, landowners and the landscape have in reducing the challenge faced by climate change and helping to restore biodiversity, much of which has been discussed through the passage of the Bill.

There is a potential role for farmers in ELM schemes going forward. There is a lot more that the natural landscape can do, not least in areas such as national parks. I know that the North York Moors National Park is keen to play its role and is waiting to hear from the Government about how it can do that under the ELM scheme; in particular, what advice it can offer to farmers and rural businesses that can help. There will be opportunities to plant trees and to help carbon sequestration. Pasture-fed and grass-fed livestock will also help.

There are other opportunities in the Bill, which I hope my noble friend will explore in summing up this group of amendments. There are possibilities to adapt to and mitigate climate change. I always get excited about Slowing the Flow at Pickering and the possibility of rolling out other such schemes, working with nature to store water temporarily on the land. We must not lose sight of the fact that many farmers are small or tenant farmers. They do not own the land, so will not benefit from any of these schemes. I hope that my noble friend and the Government bear that in the back of their mind. The Bill already reflects a commitment that helps farmers to manage livestock in a way that mitigates and adapts to climate change. I welcome the opportunity provided by Amendment 100 to discuss those issues.

Photo of Lord Judd Lord Judd Labour

My Lords, it really is quite obvious that this amendment is vital, and I congratulate my noble friend on having introduced it.

We talk a good deal about the impact of climate change on farming and all the difficulties and challenges that it presents, but we do not talk enough about the negative impact of farming on the climate and the acceleration of climate change that results from such negative realities. We also know that that need not be so and that a great deal can be done in farming at least to ameliorate the negative contribution but also to find ways of not contributing at all to the negative impact. From that standpoint, I believe it is essential that we have in place real and effective arrangements to measure and monitor changes in agricultural performance, habits and styles to meet the challenge that we are talking about.

I think that at last we are beginning to move on from the age where we talk about climate change, wring our hands and say that we must do something about it but do not provide the mechanisms to ensure that we do something about it. Here is a chance; it is a good chance and I cannot believe that the Minister will not be prepared to accept the amendment.

Photo of Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 10:00 pm, 22nd September 2020

My Lords, I have added my name to this amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Whitchurch. All noble Lords who have taken part in this debate have spoken passionately and knowledgeably on the subject of climate change. The noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, believes that a real plan for how to move forward is essential, but the Government have no vision on how to achieve this.

Unlike many of your Lordships, I am not an expert, but I can see all around me the signs that the planet is warming, and this is having a detrimental effect on all of us. Farming is often blamed for contributing to climate change, and certainly it does not help, but the blame cannot be laid entirely at the door of farmers. We are all responsible and have our part to play in reducing carbon emissions.

The target of 2050 for the reduction of our emissions is far too far away. In order to monitor our progress as a nation, an interim target of 2030 is essential. Agriculture and the NFU have estimated that they will be able to achieve their net zero target by 2040. It is a pity that the Government cannot follow this example.

The noble Lord, Lord Randall of Uxbridge, referred to the burning of peat bogs, and I ask the Minister whether such a practice would qualify under the ELMS. The noble Lord, Lord Krebs, stressed how important it is to reduce our emissions by 2030, and I am sure we all agree. The noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, expressed concern around the debate on emissions that farmers need to respond to the problems before them, taking into account the economic consequences. He said that the rural economy is very fragile and that a degree of realism is needed.

As I have said previously, I will not be here in 2050, but my children and grandchildren will, as will the children and grandchildren of the majority of noble Lords taking part today. I will give just two very different examples of the effects of climate change globally.

I am lucky enough to have stood in the Maasai Mara very close to a white rhino. I was absolutely terrified and did not move a muscle. What a magnificent beast it was. Soon, if we do nothing, the 3,000 that are left out of the previous 65,000 will be gone. On a more parochial level, the bullfinch is one of my favourite birds and used to be seen in our hedgerows. This bird has all but disappeared from our countryside, and it is nearly five years since I saw a solitary bullfinch.

UK agriculture alone has not directly caused these two instances, but it has not helped. As the noble Lord, Lord Judd, said, we need to address this and have effective targets. Now is the time to take action; now is the time to set an interim target for 2030; and now is the time to stand up and be counted. I hope that the Minister is able to agree with this amendment and I look forward to his comments.

Photo of Lord Gardiner of Kimble Lord Gardiner of Kimble The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords for their contributions to this very important debate on the noble Baroness’s Amendment 100. The first thing I would like to say is that I am most terribly sorry if a letter has not been attended to, but the messaging I have had is that, whatever the noble Lady decides, my door is always open and we can arrange meetings if there are—as I know there will be—continuing discussions on a range of things relating to climate change and agriculture. I want to put on record that I try my best to attend to correspondence and it seems that this one has slipped through the net—so I apologise for that.

This is a crucial matter and, as far as I am concerned, we must all work together on this. In June 2019, the Government amended the Climate Change Act to legislate for a target of net zero by 2050 and introduced carbon budgets, which cap emissions over successive five-year periods. The Government have set these as interim targets on the road to net-zero emissions. I am particularly interested in this matter, and I went through the noble Baroness’s amendment. The Secretary of State is already required to have due regard to the Government’s commitment to achieving net zero as set out in the legally binding Climate Change Act 2008, and in reference to the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The Committee on Climate Change advised that emissions reductions will be needed in all sectors to achieve the UK’s net-zero GHG emissions target by 2050. Targets are set by the Act, but we do not have sector-specific targets under it; this is true across all sectors and departments. The absence of legally defined sector-specific targets ensures that we can meet our climate change commitments in the most cost-effective way across the economy, maximising social and environmental benefits and mitigating damaging trade-offs.

In the United Kingdom, agriculture at this moment constitutes 10% of annual greenhouse gas emissions. I entirely agree that agriculture must—and I underline “must”—play its part in addressing this grave matter. I note, for example, the 2019 report from the Committee on Climate Change on achieving net zero, which says:

“It is difficult to reduce agriculture emissions to near-zero given the inherent biological processes and chemical reactions arising from crops, soils and livestock.”

Agricultural greenhouse gas emissions have reduced by 16% since 1990, with many farms using more efficient agricultural practices. My noble friend Lady McIntosh raised land-use change and forestry: all of these can continue to provide benefits in carbon sequestration. I would be the first to say that more needs to be done, and much more needs to be done.

I am obviously pleased about the ambition shown by many in the sector, including the National Farmers’ Union. Climate change represents a significant challenge. Indeed, the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, quite rightly feels passionately about this matter, so perhaps the words “significant challenge” are a terrible understatement. This is a very grave matter that we need to address. However, I will say that there are great opportunities for the sector, and we will continue to work closely on this issue with the NFU and other leading stakeholders, including through the Greenhouse Gas Action Plan partnership.

Another point the noble Baroness made in her amendment was on the devolved Administrations. Agriculture is a devolved matter, as we all know, so each national Administration is responsible for their own policy to address climate change in the direction of agriculture. The nations are united in a desire to reach net zero and reduce emissions from agriculture. This can be seen, for example, in DAERA’s efficient farming implementation plan, or in the Welsh Government’s Prosperity for All publication that outlines their low-carbon delivery plan. We will work together across the union to ensure we are delivering a solution that will work for the whole of the United Kingdom. This includes agreeing common frameworks, which include a framework on the best available techniques for preventing and minimising emissions.

Defra takes a key role in supporting emissions reduction from agriculture and land use by providing scientific advice and evidence. This includes long-term breeding work to develop more efficient, productive and resilient crops and livestock, as well as research on more efficient feeding strategies for livestock. Such research includes the clean growth through sustainable intensification project, which is due to complete in November of this year. This research has been carried out alongside academics, government officials, stakeholders and farmers, and will outline productivity and land management options, as well as advice on actions and innovative technologies that will reduce emissions from agriculture. These options will be the most effective, best value for money and most feasible for the sector to action. This research has influenced, and will continue to influence, development of future farming policies such as ELM.

I am very pleased that Clause 1(1)(d) of the Bill already enables the Secretary of State to give financial assistance for the purposes of

“managing land, water or livestock in a way that mitigates or adapts to climate change”.

ELM will be the key delivery mechanism for this and a powerful vehicle for achieving goals set out in the 25-year environment plan, our net-zero target and commitments made in the Clean Growth Strategy. Schemes such as the productivity grant scheme, the Woodland Carbon Fund and the expanded Countryside Stewardship scheme will also contribute to emission-reduction goals alongside ELM. I agree with the point that my noble friend Lady McIntosh made: working with nature will be an increasing imperative and feature of our work.

As set out in the ELM policy discussion document published in February, it is proposed that tier 3 of the scheme should focus on delivering landscape-scale projects that can make significant contributions to national priorities such as net zero. This could include funding for afforestation, peatland restoration and wetland creation. We have proposed that the scheme should also incentivise environmentally sustainable farming through tier 1 and the delivery of locally targeted environmental actions through tier 2.

The provisions of the Environment Bill will bring all climate change legislation within the enforcement remit of the office for environmental protection, also known as the OEP. Under the robust governance framework established through the Climate Change Act, our independent advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, scrutinise government actions and hold us to account. The OEP will work closely alongside the Committee on Climate Change on climate issues, ensuring that their individual roles complement and reinforce each other.

The OEP is required to monitor the Government’s progress in improving the natural environment in accordance with the content of environmental improvement plans, the first of which is the 25-year environment plan, and—I emphasise—targets. It must produce an annual report on its findings. When undertaking this independent assessment of the Government’s progress, the OEP may consider that the Government could improve progress in meeting one or more of the goals within the 25-year environment plan. For example, this could include a recommendation that additional funding be provided to deliver the purposes set out in Clause 1 of the Agriculture Bill.

Having now been given a sight of her letter, I also say to the noble Baroness that Defra is not the only department responding to climate change. Reducing carbon emissions and enhancing the environment are priorities for the Government. Indeed, there is a new Cabinet Committee on Climate Change to oversee this effort and drive forward action across the whole of government. BEIS leads across government on climate change and net zero, and all departments are working to deliver. For example, DfT published the first phase of our transport decarbonisation plan in March 2020 and MHCLG aims to publish a heat and building strategy later this year. Next year the UK will host the vital COP 26 climate negotiations, and we are determined to use this conference to promote ambitious action to deliver the transformational change required by the Paris Agreement.

I looked very closely at the detail of the noble Baroness’s amendment. I think I have covered all the components of the amendment in terms of what the Secretary of State is already required under law to have due regard to in this matter. I have spoken of our work with the devolved Administrations, which again is imperative because there is no point us all spinning in our own orbits. This will need a collaborative approach.

I appreciate that noble Lords have had to deal with the Fisheries Bill and the Agriculture Bill, and your Lordships will have the Environment Bill. If there had been an omnibus Bill which involved all three, I might have gone quite mad. However, that might, conceivably, have helped noble Lords to see the context of how the governance and interrelationship of all these matters engage. I understand why the noble Baroness has sought what I hope are genuine assurances about what my department intends—and needs—to do to work with agriculture so that it plays its part in the reduction of emissions; and so that it does not become a predominant producer of emissions as other sectors reduce theirs. We need to work with agriculture and the research we are doing will be very helpful.

I hope that, with my full reply on the elements of her amendment, the noble Baroness will understand why I am asking her to consider withdrawing it, mindful that I believe its components are being dealt with and that there are legal requirements on the Secretary of State.

Photo of Baroness Jones of Whitchurch Baroness Jones of Whitchurch Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 10:15 pm, 22nd September 2020

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords for their support this evening. As the noble Baronesses, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb and Lady Bakewell, and the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, said, there are a lot of good words and good intentions on climate change but no “logical trajectory”, as the noble Baroness put it. There is a desperate need for more measurement and metrics. It has been an ongoing criticism from the Natural Capital Committee that we are just not very good at having baseline measurements and measuring progress. That issue has run through this debate.

The noble Lords, Lord Randall and Lord Inglewood, rightly said that farmers understood the problems and wanted to help. A number of noble Lords welcomed the NFU’s commitment and ambition for a 2040 target. The good will is there, but support and help need to be provided to make it happen. The noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, identified famers’ concerns about the economic consequences if they are not given the help to make that transition. There are, of course, economic consequences, which is why it is important that we harness schemes such as the ELMS to help farmers make the transition and enable them to play their part. That point was made by the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh.

Several noble Lords also recognised that there are opportunities for rewarding the benefits from carbon sinks. The economic impact of this does not have to be just negative. Planting trees, and all the other regreening we are able to do, could have a positive one for the farming community. I also agree with the noble Lord, Lord Judd, that there is a cost to inaction as well. If we do not tackle the negative impact of climate change—extreme weather and so on—that also affects the economies of farming communities. They suffer as well when these extreme events take place. We have no option but to take action on this; the question is how we go forward on it.

A number of noble Lords mentioned the burning of peat bogs. We are all slightly concerned about this. The Minister did not mention it in his response, but it would be helpful to know when the Government are going to introduce a ban on it, which would be a very simple first step.

I welcome the Minister’s offer to work together. I also welcome his understanding of the gravity of the situation we find ourselves in. There is a bit of a contradiction about the term “sector-specific”. The Minister’s initial response was, “We don’t want anything too sector-specific because we need to look across all departments to see what different roles they can play”, but then he referred to other departments working on very specific things. In all honesty, other government departments are moving ahead quicker than Defra and we are getting left behind. That is my real concern.

He mentioned a number of activities taking place within Defra, but the external independent bodies that measure our progress—the Committee on Climate Change is just one—are sounding alarm bells, saying that progress is neither fast enough nor deep enough. Whatever the Government are doing is simply not enough. This is not just me making a political point; it is a more general concern from the experts outside.

We come back to the need for proper metrics and measurement, which is key. The Minister talked about the devolved nations. Our amendment refers to the need to consult them. It is important that we involve them in tackling this issue. I hope, as I am sure he does, that we will work together to reach our own solutions.

There is a lot of good will here. I am very grateful for the tone that the Minister has set, and for his open door going forward. We may well be pushing at it. I hope he understands that, in the meantime, I still feel that it is important to put these issues in the Bill. I would welcome the opportunity to talk but, in the meantime, we would feel more content if the legal responsibilities that he talked about were in the Bill. Therefore, I beg leave to test the opinion of the House.

Ayes 249, Noes 200.

Division number 4 Agriculture Bill - Report (3rd Day) — Amendment 100

Aye: 249 Members of the House of Lords

No: 200 Members of the House of Lords

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

Division conducted remotely on Amendment 100.

Amendment 100 agreed.

Photo of Lord Curry of Kirkharle Lord Curry of Kirkharle Crossbench

I would like to test the opinion of the House on Amendment 101.

Photo of Baroness Morris of Bolton Baroness Morris of Bolton Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

Amendments 102 and 102A are amendments to Amendment 101. Does the noble Lord, Lord Randall of Uxbridge, wish to move Amendment 102?

Photo of Lord Randall of Uxbridge Lord Randall of Uxbridge Conservative

I shall not be moving the amendment.

Amendments 102 to 102A not moved.