The Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed the special recognition of the importance of agriculture in the climate change deal, reached in Paris last weekend.
The UFU believes that the new agreement protects the farming sectors from climate change mitigation if this threatens food production.
UFU deputy president Barclay Bell said farmers experienced first-hand the impact of climate change on weather patterns.
“Weather is still the biggest determinant of their financial fortunes, since output dictates what a farmer has to sell.
“However the experience of arbitrary targets, not least over biofuels, has confirmed that these are not the way to go. That is why we are so glad to see agriculture protected in the COP 21 agreement.”
The UFU says the agreement recognises the vital importance of agriculture not only to meet the needs of a growing world population, but as a source of land that can help absorb carbon.
“We have said all along that farming can be part of the complex solutions to climate change over the coming decades. This has now been recognised in the final deal,” said Mr Bell.
He stressed, however, that while farmers recognised the need not to allow global temperatures to rise by more than two degrees, it was important the UK and others did not seek to break rank by imposing even tougher controls beyond this target.
“We now have a binding global deal, and that is the way it should be seen,” said Mr Bell.
Copa-Cogeca, the umbrella body representing the views of many farming groups and co-ops throughout Europe, has also welcomed the Paris deal.
The organisation’s Secretary General Pekka Pesonen said: “I welcome this historic agreement which for the first time recognises the importance of food security and the fact that producers need to increase food production for a world population expected to grow by 60% by 2050 as well as the fight against climate change which threatens food production. Global food production is expected to drop by 17% for each degree of temperature rise as a consequence of more extreme weather such as drought and flooding. Producing more with less is crucial here.
“In the EU, our governments have already agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. Such reductions are of great importance if we want to keep global temperatures from rising by more than two degrees celsius by the end of the century. And I am glad that our partners across the world will now be subject to a review and monitoring to ensure their policies are headed in the right direction to help combat climate change. First global stock taking of the progress made will be in 2023 under the deal agreed in Paris.”