THE REPORT from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published this week is not just another in a long line of reports. It is the big one – the report from which there can be no running away.

The need for change it highlights will be the basis of policy for decades to come. Climate change is for real and the big COP26 conference in Glasgow will see a new drive to achieve a change of approach. Hopefully this will go beyond more self-flagellation by the UK and Europe, to see others, led by China, showing greater ambition. If that does not happen we will continue to face pain and economic damage from government policies that in reality are just tinkering around the edge of the issue and cannot deliver meaningful outcomes on a global scale.

From electric cars through wind turbines to reducing plastic waste in the UK are all worthy policies. They are helping to create a new era of political correctness around things deemed bad for the environment. Carbon generation is becoming as socially unacceptable as smoking did in past decades.

The government is demonstrating the zeal of a religious convert towards action. No cost is too great, no infringement of freedom of choice unacceptable, in pursuit of policies to make the UK a 'global leader' in green thinking. There are even suggestions that this green revolution is a second coming of the industrial revolution. This ignores this phrase already having been coined to describe agriculture's science-linked delivery of a surge in global food production from the 1940s to the 1960s.

With a population of just 60 million, nothing the UK does can impact a global problem. This is not the case at an EU level, but the UK chose to distance itself, via Brexit, from the EU's Green Deal policies – even if the carbon reduction aspirations of both are similar.

It was ironic that the report was published just as the weather confirmed the reality of climate change bringing warmer, wetter summers – with that increase in rain coming in the shape of monsoon-like downpours. Events of last weekend changed the harvest fortunes for some arable farmers and were a reminder that farmers are front row victims of the consequences of climate change.

Put simply, farmers are both a contributor to the problem and one of the key weapons in the battle to tackle it. As we move into an era when politics will be dominated by this single issue, farmers, and more importantly the farming lobby, must get that message across to politicians and the general public.

There is no question that there is going to be a sea change in policy and in how people go about their everyday business. Farmers need to be on the right end of that equation. Already there are suggestions that climate change mitigation will be about eating less red meat in favour of meat substitutes or vegan diets – the dairy products acceptable to vegetarians not being acceptable to the virtue signalling purists on social media. This is simplistic in the extreme. It would be interesting to see a real comparison of the carbon footprint – in itself a term that over simplifies complex arguments – between beef produced close to home and avocados grown in Mexico for sale in the UK and Europe. A farmer group recently highlighted peaches grown in Argentina and packed in Thailand for sale in the United States. These examples confirm that being vegan or vegetarian does not stamp out your carbon footprint.

Farmers also need to make clear that trade deals built around importing cheap food from halfway around the world are not a green solution. That this is the basis of government policy in London cannot be allowed to sit well with its green aspirations. At the end of the day, green outcomes in the countryside cannot be bought in the way the government is planning for England. Green outcomes are the result of farmers managing the land to produce food as part of an agenda that puts a value of food security and local sourcing.

Focussing policy on walking tall for ten days at COP26 is just more political methane, to put it politely, and we already have a surplus of that in our everyday lives. Complex problems demand complex solutions that take decades to bring to fruition. Such thinking does not sit as easily with politicians as it does with farmers.