Farms (Emissions and Carbon Sequestration Data)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 6th November 2019.

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Photo of Alexander Stewart Alexander Stewart Conservative

5. To ask the Scottish Government what progress it has made on improving farm-level emissions and carbon sequestration data. (S5O-03715)

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

We know that our farmers and crofters provide wider benefits through actions such as tree planting, renewable energy generation and protection of historical carbon stores. The Scottish Government remains committed to working with our farmers, crofters and others who have the means to demonstrate such actions, and to exploring whole-farm carbon footprinting and agricultural produce emissions intensity. However, it must be understood that none of those complementary actions can replace the greenhouse gas inventory, which is determined by international classifications.

Photo of Alexander Stewart Alexander Stewart Conservative

That kind of data is certainly complex and crucial if we are to have an accurate assessment of carbon management by individual farms and estates. Given that talks are already taking place, will the Scottish Government publish a report next year showing clear dates and timescales for the progress of its work?

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

I am happy to consider that suggestion. There is so much work under way, because we recognise the scale of the challenge.

I know from farmers to whom I have spoken that the idea that they are causing emissions, rather than doing positive work on their land, can be a great cause of frustration. That is why it is vital that we find a way of properly taking account of their work in the data. Work on that will be on-going. I am happy to talk to Alexander Stewart about other initiatives that we are considering, and about how we intend to progress the work.

Photo of Angus MacDonald Angus MacDonald Scottish National Party

Can the minister advise Parliament how many carbon audits were provided for in the farm advisory service and how many have been taken up?

Photo of Mairi Gougeon Mairi Gougeon Scottish National Party

The farm advisory service has received 629 applications for carbon audits, which is more than twice our annual target. That number shows the willingness of our farmers, crofters and land managers to be part of the solution in tackling climate change and cutting emissions.

I encourage all farmers and crofters to look at the opportunities, information and advice that are available through the farm advisory service. Carbon audits are just one aspect of the service: it can also provide integrated land management plans, specialist advice and mentoring, and a raft of technical notes and case studies that are aimed at helping our agriculture industry to work towards a more sustainable future.