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Political parties lack carbon plan for land

No major political party has a credible plan to decarbonise the agriculture and land use sector, according to an analysis of net-zero policies.

The Green Alliance think tank assessed the UK government’s climate policies against the emissions reductions required to meet the fifth carbon budget that spans the 2028-2032 period. It found that just 52% are covered by confirmed policies with 17% covered by policies under consultation and 15% by policy ambition with the remaining 16% covered by no policy at all.

Firm policy commitments are particularly lacking in the agriculture and land use sector with only 18% of the emissions reductions needed by the sector covered by confirmed policy with a further 60% covered by policy ambition.

Green Alliance said supporting farmers across the UK with an additional £1bn per year to prioritise environmental improvement on the least productive land would reduce emissions by 14MtCO2e, or 26% of the sector’s emissions, enough to close the sector’s policy gap.

It also called for more action to encourage the use of methane suppressants in livestock which could save 8MtCO2e, representing 15% of the sector’s emissions.

Green Alliance’s latest net-zero policy tracker didn’t mention dietary change as a potential driver of emissions reduction, however the government has consistently refused to support calls for a reduction in meat and dairy consumption from the likes of national food strategy author Henry Dimbleby and the independent Climate Change Commission.

Agriculture isn’t the only sector lacking an adequate net-zero roadmap. The report found that transport has the biggest policy gap of all sectors, exacerbated by the government delaying the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030 to 2035.

Overall, Green Alliance said its analysis demonstrated a continued lack of political leadership and some notable backsliding in meeting the UK’s climate goals. Amid signs of wavering ambition on the environmental agenda across Westminster, the think tank said it was vital that politicians from all parties put forward credible plans on how they will get the UK back on track to achieve net-zero.