Apart from the industrialised south coast, Wales is a largely rural country with agriculture responsible for a significant proportion of its overall emissions.

The report, unveiled by Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones on Friday, has been published by the Assembly’s Land Use Climate Change Group which was established last year.

It was asked to look at opportunities in farming and forestry and recommends a set of initiatives that would allow Wales to maintain its food production potential while cutting emissions.

Among these are:

  • widespread introduction of anaerobic digestion to reduce methane emissions
  • efficiency measures such as better use of manure, fertilisers and energy to improve farm productivity
  • expansion of existing woodlands
  • the development of renewable energy sources on agricultural land
  • The report’s emphasis is on maintaining intensive dairy, sheep and beef sectors while diversifying and increasing vegetable crops.

    In the longer term, the report recommends development of a more radical approach where much of the cattle herd is housed and methane emissions are captured.

    By 2040, agriculture and land use sectors could make substantial progress to carbon neutrality.

    Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones said: “Climate change remains one of the biggest challenges facing our generation. How we manage our land will play a crucial role in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change.

    “Farming accounts for approx 10% of Wales’s greenhouse gas emissions. If we also consider food processing, retail and waste, this figure increases considerably.

    “I thank the group for undertaking this valuable work. I will now consider in detail the report’s recommendations.”

    Professor Gareth Wyn Jones, Chair of the Land Use Climate Change Group, said: “Given the complexity of the issues, involving not only the emission of carbon dioxide but also two other important greenhouse gases, methane and nitrous oxide, my group has been faced with a major challenge.

    “It is our judgement as a group that the components of the recommended scenario offer a positive way forward which will not only achieve a major cut in net emissions by about 2040 but also will contribute to the sustainability of rural Wales by generating additional income streams including from micro renewable energy generation.”

    Sam Bond

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