SCOTTISH AGRICULTURE has a hugely important role to play in addressing climate change, supporting biodiversity and producing healthy, sustainable food, and must be given the recognition it deserves in the global discussions soon to take place at COP26.

These were the thoughts echoed by industry leaders from across the agricultural sector, ahead of the UN Conference due to take place between Sunday, October 31 and Friday, November 12.

Read more: Scottish Ag leaders raise farming's needs ahead of COP26

World leaders are soon to descend on Glasgow for two weeks of discussions – seeking solutions on how to secure global net zero by 2050 and limit global temperature rises to 1.5°C.

The Scottish Farmer asked organisations that represent a range of sectors across Scottish agriculture to share their thoughts on the upcoming conference and the main outcomes they hope to see coming out of the expected wide-ranging discussions.

Our COP26 spread has been shared in four parts (as featured on pages 12 - 15, in the October 23rd edition of the Scottish Farmer) and this is the second part of the series:-

Soil Association

By Head of Policy, David McKay

COP 26 in Glasgow will bring world leaders together with an opportunity to take bold and urgent action to tackle the climate emergency.

Here are five outcomes that the Soil Association would like to see from the summit.

  • Governments must show leadership and champion a transition to a food and farming system that delivers healthy and sustainable diets, resilient livelihoods and meets climate and nature goals. The Sustainable Agriculture Dialogue on November 6 (Nature Day) will address the impact of industrialised food production and our leaders should commit to serious change.
  • Change should include a shift to agro-ecological or higher-welfare, nature-friendly farming systems such as organic. This must happen in parallel with dietary change to encourage the consumption of less but better meat and more and better plants.
  • The UK Government holds the COP presidency and can use that platform to urge other countries to step up their efforts to tackle the climate emergency and limit global temperature rises to 1.5°C.
  • The Scottish Government can also show leadership on a global stage by making meaningful announcements on climate and nature – including on food, farming and land use policy – and making clear that farmers are a significant part of the solution to climate change.
  • Scottish Government announcements are likely to include initial measures agreed by the Agricultural Reform Implementation and Oversight Board but should also include investment in nature-based solutions such as agroecology, peatland restoration and tree planting.

Scottish Land and Estates

By Chief Executive, Sarah-Jane Laing

My first wish for COP26 is simply for real action, not just words.

Time is running out and we need governments, businesses and society to step up and alter their approach in order to address the climate and biodiversity crises.

My second wish is for tools rather than targets. New technology being developed will help but a collective approach with standardised tools is needed now to allow us to better understand and accurately measure the environmental impact of our activities.

Establishing a carbon market and pricing structure with a clear, agreed measurement of sequestration and carbon footprint/emissions would be positive steps.

My third wish is for recognition for the contribution land managers already make and will continue to do so in tackling climate change and ensuring they are fully supported to continue this vital work.

Substantial progress has already been made through woodland creation, peatland restoration and changes to land management and farming practices which lock in soil carbon, reduce emissions and improve biodiversity.

SLE-led initiatives like the Wildlife Estates Scotland accreditation schemes and Helping it Happen Awards recognise this excellent work but more financial support from governments including research, development and advice is needed if we are to meet our ambitious net zero targets.

My fourth wish is for proper reform of the current flawed energy performance certificate methodology. it is simply not fit for purpose for rural properties – it doesn’t make any sense to progress the investment required to improve the energy efficiency of homes without addressing this.

Quality Meat Scotland

Here are our top five outcomes we would like to come out of the climate summit.

  • That Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork are recognised as nutritious and healthy protein sources that deliver positive benefits for climate, nature and our Scottish citizens.
  • Governments and negotiators recognise the benefits that grazing livestock bring to managing landscapes, sequestering carbon and maintaining rural populations.
  • Governments and negotiators commit and legislate for a global carbon trading scheme and establish a common baseline for all environmental measures, that means governments cannot offshore emissions at the expense of domestic industries.
  • A commitment to funding research and mechanisms for science and innovation, particularly within our food systems, to help close the gap to net zero.
  • Governments and public bodies commit to food procurement policies that champion locally produced, quality assured Scotch Beef, Lamb and Specially Selected Pork.


By Principal and Chief Executive, Professor Wayne Powell

With government and industry representatives from across the world meeting at COP26 to lay out their plans for climate change, net zero and adjusting to the transition, this is a pivotal moment for the world and represents a huge opportunity for change.

SRUC is a leading force in research, education and knowledge exchange and is pivotal to addressing the dual challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.

For example, our research underpins future land use strategies that enhance biodiversity in farming systems, support livestock production as part of a net zero circular economy and optimise land use for carbon sequestration.

New digital tools such as Agrecalc have been developed to lower a farm’s carbon footprint and support a net zero natural economy. We also train, educate and mentor future land managers and conservationists with the skills needed to implement innovation.

Our Farm Advisory Service provides a practical conduit between farming, crofting and climate change adaptation and mitigation through dissemination of new knowledge and advice.

Through our tripartite mission of research, education and knowledge exchange, SRUC is committed to working with our students, staff, communities and stakeholders, to do all we can to address climate change and make this a better and safer planet for us all.

Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers

By Executive Manager, Martin Morgan

The aspiration behind this forthcoming UN conference, to unite the world to tackle climate change, is one which we should all support.

If we fail to pursue a sustainable and nature friendly approach to the serious business of producing enough nutritious and healthy food to feed our children, we face a bleak future.

From the processors’ perspective we hope for three key outcomes. Firstly, that the debate and discussion around the emissions generated by different livestock production systems is fact based and balanced.

For too long vested interest groups and high-profile celebrity individuals have perpetrated the myth farming livestock is hugely damaging despite the fact that mankind has been rearing animals for food for centuries with no evidence of a negative impact on the environment.

Secondly, we want the conference to acknowledge the vital role the red meat plays in a balanced diet, ensuring the consumer get the right mix of vital minerals and to pursue an active and rewarding lifestyle.

Thirdly, we want to see properly funded action plans agreed and implemented by national governments and their stakeholders to deliver meaningful and lasting change on the ground to reverse the impact of climate change, stem and then quickly recover biodiversity loss and encourage the transition to truly sustainable food supply chains.