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EU ministers - climate change and agriculture

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 12, 05 8:52 am    Post subject: EU ministers - climate change and agriculture  Reply with quote    

Defra Press release


Sustainable agriculture and land-use can play a significant role in addressing climate change and still provide the economic and social benefits rural areas need, Margaret Beckett Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said today.

Mrs Beckett was speaking at the conclusion of the first combined meeting of the EU Agriculture and Environment Councils which discussed the relationship between climate change and agriculture.

Mrs Beckett, who chaired the meeting, said:

"Climate change is the most serious and long-term challenge we face and agriculture is the second largest source of UK greenhouse gases, 7% of the UK's emissions. The UK government is determined to keep action to tackle climate change high on the international agenda. This is why we have made climate change a key priority for our presidencies of both the G8 and the EU this year.

"In the UK we are taking these issues forward with our Climate Change Programme Review and a policy framework for adaptation, to be published later this year. We have also established a high-level Rural Climate Change Forum to help us address these challenges effectively.

"Land managers control some 42% of the land area of the EU and their role is vital as we strive for sustainability. Climate change will create new challenges for land managers but may also bring opportunities for the creation of new rural enterprises

"Farmers can help to address the drastic impacts of climate change, for example through water management to reduce the risks of flooding. The agricultural sector also needs to consider how it can contribute to reducing its own direct emissions of greenhouse gases, for instance through energy crop production and changing their management practices for fertiliser and manure application."

Ministers heard presentations from seven leading international experts. In her summing up at the end of meeting, Mrs Beckett stressed how vital it was for both agriculture and environment Ministers to work together to help farmers and land managers face up to the challenges and opportunities which climate change presents.

She highlighted some key messages which the speakers had presented to Ministers:

The impacts of climate change on Europe's farming and food industries may be less than the impact on the rest of the world.

Nevertheless, southern and central Europe are likely to face great challenges in terms of water shortage, and heat stress.

There is a need to maintain flexibility in policy making so that land managers are able to respond to uncertainties which climate change will bring.

An integrated approach to policies and messages addressed to land managers is vital so that in solving one problem we do not inadvertently create others. This applies at national as well as at international level.

Agriculture, like other modern industries, needs to embrace the concept of resource efficiency to the full and to its advantage.

Innovation needs to be encouraged so that land managers can seize opportunities related to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Mrs. Beckett added:

"It will be important that we continue to share our experiences to manage the impacts of climate change and address major risks, such as the fire and flooding events we have recently witnessed across Europe.

"The European Commission also has an important role to play in promoting and co-ordinating strategies for mitigating climate change, and I very much welcome the importance which both Commissioner Fischer-Boel and Commissioner Dimas attached to this issue at our meeting and to continue to work together on it in the future."

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