If, like me, you’re old enough to remember the 1970’s chart toppers, The Three Degrees, you might have wondered if the Farming for 1.5 Degrees group – which was announced last week – was some sort of half-baked tribute band.

But apparently it’s not, for ‘FF1.5°’ is actually a new independent climate change inquiry group which has been set up with the aim of mapping a positive path for farming and food production and to examine how a low carbon landscape can support a bright future for farming and food. Or so the press release reads.

But while the group consist of environmentalists, scientists and farmers from different sectors of the industry, I suspect the discussions might be a bit more down to earth, with former NFUS president, Nigel Miller, appointed as one of the co-chairs.

The aim of the committee is to find the best way for farming to help Scotland get to its proposed ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas emission (GHG) target by 2045 while still producing the sort of quality produce for which the country is known.

There is a danger here. For, sadly, it would be all too easy to reduce emissions by dramatically cutting food production at home and relying more heavily on imports, a move which would effectively export our GHG emissions to other countries. It would also be the sort of short-sighted approach often latched on to by governments in a hurry.

The trouble is that it might also lead to a situation where we rely heavily on imports from parts of the world which are likely to be much more heavily impacted by global warming than the UK.

If our own farming industry was left to decline and wither even in the short term – with the loss of the key skills and knowledge which currently support it – it would be all but impossible to revive it at a later date.

On the topic of government decision-making processes, it was confirmed last week that Westminster’s failure to push through the adoption of a new, greener petrol could result in a spectacular blow to the country’s arable sector.

For the government inaction which has stalled the move to E10 – a blend of petrol containing 10% bioethanol – is putting the future of the country’s two big bioethanol plants in the North of England, which are capable of utilising 2m tonnes of home-grown wheat a year, at risk.

Many other countries, including many European nations as well as the United States, have already pushed through moves which make the use of such a blend obligatory. They are reaping the benefits not only of cleaner air, but also of a buoyant bio-fuel sector.

Last week, an all-party parliamentary group (APPG) report concluded that without urgent action from the UK Government, the country is likely to suffer the total loss of our bioethanol industry.

Nic Dakin, a Labour MP who chaired the committee, said the report highlighted the benefits and opportunities associated with using E10, which requires double the current 5% content of renewable bioethanol in unleaded petrol.

He added that changing to E10 could reduce emissions by the equivalent of taking at least 700,000 cars off the road, while recent moves away from diesel could mean these savings might be even bigger.

With the Government’s Department for Transport likely to announce a ruling on the issue later this year, the report made the timely observation that if the UK loses its current biofuel facilities – centred at the Vivergo and Ensus plants – not only would we lose an industry worth an estimated £1bn to the UK economy, but we’d be unlikely to attract further international investment in the area, including for the next generation of biofuels.

Even before UK plants faced this competitive disadvantage to those in other European countries, the swings and roundabouts of oil versus grain prices saw the plants mothballed oftener than my collection of authentic 1970s’ disco flares – and there have also been regular threats of permanent closure.

While the dunt taken by wheat prices when one of the plants closed last year showed just how big an effect their permanent loss would be likely to have on grain prices, the livestock sector would lose out too – with the disappearance of the dark distillers grains which, although a by-product, provide a major source of high protein cattle feed.

Two arguments have been raised for not changing. One is that encouraging electric cars is the favoured route for making our roads and highways greener, the other is that E10 might not agree with the engines of older cars.

However, it’s going to take decades to change over completely to electric vehicles – so why not make the most of the immediate reduction in emissions offered by E10?

While a similar argument of engine damage was put forward for older cars when unleaded petrol was first introduced, the change was still pushed through, to the general benefit of the country’s air quality.

So, with an urgent need to address the causes of climate change, improve air quality and support job creation in emerging green industries, practical measures which make petrol cars cleaner and greener should surely be a top priority for government which should make the introduction of E10 in the UK a requirement by 2020 at the latest.

Another downside of losing these bioethanol plants would be that both more biofuels and more protein feed for animals – both likely to be sourced from less sustainable sources – would have to be imported into the country.

But without some urgent Government encouragement for this sector – which delivers the win-win Holy Grail of being environmentally sound while supporting UK farming – we could find ourselves joining in a Three Degrees chorus and asking the bioethanol industry: ‘When will I see you again…?’