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 final part of the series:-

National Sheep Association

Our five wishes for COP26 include: -

  • Ensure the right decisions for the future – a holistic approach to sustainability. Grasslands are as valuable for carbon, nature, access, health, well-being and aesthetic pleasure as any other form of land use. Sensitive grazing enhances plant diversity and prevents wildfires whilst offering a solution to global warming, the wellbeing of people and aiding nature recovery.
  • Recognise the role of sheep in delivering for the environment, economy and society. Sheep are central to landscape management, providing public access and supporting tourism and are the backbone of many rural communities, providing employment and supporting rural economies. Accurate consideration is needed to acknowledge what sheep farming already does, what else it can provide and what would be lost if the wrong policies are pursued.
  • A natural, nutritious, welfare friendly protein and sustainable fibre source.Grass-fed lamb and mutton is lower in total fat and has optimised levels of omega-3 and omega-6 essential acids, plus vitamin B12, zinc and iron. Wool grows naturally on sheep and is a highly stable carbon store whilst being biodegradable, fire resistant and a sustainable alternative to manmade fibres.
  • Value of grassland maintenance. Permanent pasture and unimproved grassland is the most reliable way to deliver environmental gains and food production from land unsuitable for cultivation. Sheep support the nutrient cycle and protect valuable carbon stores which are found in soil, roots and foliage
  • Sheep - diverse by nature. The UK has a unique and rich diversity of sheep genetics with more native breeds than anywhere else in the world. Diversity This diversity lends itself to other farming enterprises and has unparalleled applications. Arable soils benefit from grass in the rotation and grazing sheep can improve soil health and recycle nutrients.

Scottish Agritourism

By Sector Lead, Caroline Millar

The Scottish Agritourism Conference is to take place at the same time as COP26, between Tuesday 9, and Wednesday 10, of November, in Perth.

Our five wants from the climate summit are:-

1. Agritourism playing key role in linking consumers and producers

To better build connections between consumers and producers as to choices around sustainable food production here in Scotland. The agritourism community can play a key role in communicating to consumers on Scottish farms about sustainable food, environmental practices, biodiversity by welcoming thousands of visitors on to farms each year either to buy food, visit for a day or stay for a farm holiday. Driving up the amount of farm produce sold direct from farm to consumer to shorten supply chains.

2. Agritourism as a Slow Travel choice

Agritourism is recognised around the globe as a sustainable slow travel option for travellers interested in sustainability. Encouraging visitors to stay on a farm, to stay for longer, to stay in one place, to connect with the farming family and locals, to enjoy farm produce, learn about sustainable food, the environment, to actively participate in farm life. There are also many farms which have accommodation which is off grid or incorporates renewable heat and energy. The opportunity to off-set visitors travelling carbon impact with biodiversity measures on farms and to measure and promote this.

3. Electricity Charging Points

Meaningful network for electric vehicle charging points. Being able to buy food from a farmer or eat lunch with farm produce while charging your car. Driving locals and visitors on to farms to boost the rural economy. Using the Go Rural brand and campaign to promote electric charging points. This would mean our rural communities and visitors are not left adrift with the electrical revolution as they have been with internet connectivity.

4. Drive up Renewable Investment on Farms

Easier planning and capital grants to boost further renewable investments on farms including farms that are supplying electricity and heat to agritourism ventures. Impartial and informed renewable energy advice to support investment .

5. Waste Reduction

Much more focus on reducing the amount of food and drink waste throughout the whole supply chain. Considerable resource is used to take products from field through to plate, either in the home or in hospitality. Wasting less valuable food and drink would make a positive impact on the environment and save consumers money. Agritourism could play a role in educating and advising visitors on reducing food waste during visits to farms.

Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust

By Senior Scientist, Scottish Lowland Research, Dr Dave Parish,

The COP26 meeting in Glasgow will, hopefully, devise a plan that will limit global temperature increases to 1.5 °C by 2050. This will require unprecedented collaboration between nations and the transformation of various industries, including agriculture. Globally, the food industry contributes up to a third of GHG emissions, with agriculture responsible for around 80% of this.

It is imperative that COP26 is not a talking shop but delivers achievable solutions, large and small, across all industries. All governments, the richer ones in particular, will have to step up and facilitate with appropriate, perhaps radical, policies and suitable financing. No hiding behind words or passing the buck please – even the Queen is pressing for action!

Any actions must support people’s livelihoods and help them transition to the new “green economy”. Even if temperature rises can be limited to 1.5 °C, farmers in Scotland, for example, are likely to need help adapting to hotter, drier summers and wetter winters.

It is likely that we don’t have all the answers to the problems we currently face, so serious investment in research and business support is also going to be needed, to develop solutions and bring them to market.

Any solutions to global climate change must allow farmers to continue feeding the world’s increasing population, so please don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Solutions also must not contribute to the biodiversity crisis: a stable global temperature is no good if ecosystems, and the services they provide, are damaged and depauperate.


By President Justine Shotton

Climate change is a global emergency, and the veterinary profession is uniquely placed to advocate for animal health and welfare and public health in international efforts to halt climate change and mitigate its effects.

As world leaders gather in Glasgow it provides a perfect opportunity for us as individuals, organisations, and businesses to think about our own actions and BVA is keen to stimulate debate and ideas within the veterinary profession on what we can all do to reach net zero. But this is all in the context of national and international commitments, so our wish list for COP 26 is:

  • Recognition that to tackle climate change we need a true One Health approach that understands the needs of the environment, humans and animals
  • A commitment to animal health and welfare as a key sustainability objective
  • Understanding and promotion of the role of sustainable resource management to protect and conserve species, habitats and biodiversity
  • Ambitious but realistic targets that encourage both innovation and pragmatism to be genuinely achievable
  • International commitments that are genuinely fair and inclusive and that close equality gaps, in line with our own commitments to equality and inclusivity

Read more: Scottish agriculture and COP26: A voice above the eco-babble