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.

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.

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

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 third part of the series:-


By Mike Cantlay, NatureScot chair

The farming sector is an essential part of the solution to the twin crises of climate change and nature loss. To achieve net zero in Scotland by 2045, we need transformational land use policy, and we hope that all farms will adopt nature-positive, low carbon farming.

Scottish Government targets to protect 30% of Scotland’s land and sea by 2030 provide a real opportunity to work in partnership and explore a range of approaches, including Nature Networks. These networks will help provide better ways of tackling pressures on the Scottish countryside, providing more connectivity between habitats and making Scotland’s nature less vulnerable to change. In turn, this will help us reverse nature loss and improve capture carbon from the atmosphere.

Nature is one of the five themes of the COP26 conference, and it is a crucial element in the battle against climate change. For the farming sector, nature has always been important, and we’re committed to continue helping farmers and crofters produce food sustainably and support nature on their land.

COP26 represents a huge opportunity to confront the many challenges and pressures nature is facing. Our hope at NatureScot is that the outcome of CoP26 will result in nations committing to actions to keep average global temperature rise to 1.5°C, and that nature is seen as a key part of achieving that ambition. Our overall message for COP26 is ‘Climate is Nature, Nature is Climate’. They are coupled together irreversibly. We must tackle both together, or we tackle neither.

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

By Managing Director, Doug Bell

Our six wishes for COP 26 are as follows:

  • Soils are the world’s biggest carbon sink containing three times the carbon in living plants and double that in the atmosphere. The unique ability of soil to sequester carbon means farming has a vital role to play in mitigating climate change. STFA would like to see a ‘Soil Carbon Code’ developed for Scottish agriculture as a matter of urgency.
  • Ensure a just transition. Green capital is already flowing into Scotland for carbon sequestration. New value is being created for land and this fast-developing market requires regulation to ensure the benefits accrue fairly and locally.
  • The COVID pandemic demonstrated the fragility of food supply chains. To ensure future food security in an uncertain world and reduce food miles, focus needs to be on local food supply chains and increased self-sufficiency.
  • Don’t offshore our carbon footprint: Downsizing our farming industry, leading to increased imports, with unknown carbon credentials, makes little sense. Domestic emissions may reduce but have no impact on global warming and is simply handing our markets to other nations.
  • Don’t tar all farming production systems with the same brush. For example, grass-based beef production in Scotland has a completely different environmental footprint to feedlot beef produced in other parts of the world, but the distinction is rarely recognised in climate change narratives.
  • Remove uncertainty for the farming industry with new agricultural policy. Transparent policy is required to help farmers plan and fulfill their future food production, climate change and biodiversity potential.


By Chief Executive, Nina Clancy

All industries, including agriculture, need to play a part in addressing the climate emergency. This issue is bigger than any one person, business, or sector. Working together, collaborating, cooperating, and reaching consensus is vital.

Climate change is a real concern for farmers across the world, as temperature and weather pattern changes have the potential to be devastating for producers and food security.

There is a willingness in the agricultural community to produce food and drink in an even more sustainable way, to be part of the solution and not seen as the problem.

I know that on occasion people in the agricultural industry in Scotland feel ‘blamed’ for climate change when in fact farming and crofting in this country delivers many benefits for the environment and is much more sustainable than people realise.

Change is not always easy, especially if it is sudden and out of the blue. I would like to see any policy that affects farmers, crofters, and their businesses to be clear in terms of what needs to be done and for people to be given time to plan and adapt. This will help farmers and crofters to deal with any changes, and ultimately improve the positive impact of policy changes on the environment too.

“If we all work together under the premise that we need to change practice for the future benefit of people and the planet, I am confident that what seems difficult can be achieved.”


By West Agri Affairs chair, John McCulloch

The Agricultural industry is going to experience an overhaul in the next decade.

Everything from subsidies and post-Brexit trade agreements to Coronavirus recovery

and labour shortages, it is not going to be easy! The biggest change will however be

seen in the way we run our farms. Being more environmentally friendly is going to be

encouraged and the ways in which we do that will be far from the current methods.

As world leaders gather in Glasgow in November for COP26, SAYFC would like to

see several outcomes and agreements from the gathering:

• Recognition that farming can be part of the solution, not just the pollution!

• Each country to agree to the same measures to combat climate change, not

using countries such as the UK as a stocking horse for tougher measures.

• Future trade deals will only be agreed with countries with matching welfare

and environmental standards to ourselves.

• Measures, such as tree planting to be carried out on more marginal land to allow

better quality land to be available for new entrants.

• Government to consult and listen to farmers on future plans and their


In November, SAYFC will be releasing a video to showcase what a variety of our

members are already doing to introduce greener methods of production on their


Agriculture is fragile, and although farmers recognise the need for change,

implementation of it must be done in a phased and responsible way. A dump of new

policy on an already struggling industry at this time could leave lasting damage for



Moredun’s five top outcomes for the upcoming talks include:-

• An appreciation of the positive contribution of livestock and livestock products to people across the world. Livestock provide highly nutritious food, often on unproductive land converting grass to high quality protein

• Livestock provide wool, a very sustainable and versatile textile, as it can be produced organically, is biodegradable and can easily be re-cycled. It has natural water-repellent and flame-resistant properties without the addition of chemicals

• Support for and appreciation of science and technology to provide solutions to tackle infectious diseases, using rapid and accurate diagnostic tests and vaccines to increase the sustainable productivity of livestock and with a smaller carbon footprint

• Encourage the next generation to get involved in science and contribute towards some of these global grand challenges, looking at ways to combat climate change and biodiversity loss, improve food and water security and tackle infectious diseases

• People to appreciate cows (and sheep!)

Read more: COP26: Scottish farming leaders share industry need's ahead of climate summit