Amendment 100

Part of Agriculture Bill - Report (3rd Day) – in the House of Lords at 10:00 pm on 22nd September 2020.

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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.