19 February 2020

COP26 has now broken through to the headlines. The very public falling out between the previous Chair and the Prime Minister, the designation of Alok Sharma, the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, as Minister for COP26, and a potential England/Scotland row about the venue, have brought it to mass attention. This is the 26th Conference Of the Parties, the governing body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, launched in Rio in 1992, and the body that created the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and the Paris Agreement in 2015. The COP monitors progress and negotiates targets for tackling climate change. Over 200 countries are parties, and the last event, COP25, had about 25,000 delegates. The dates are set, 9 - 19 November 2020 and (at least at the moment) so is the venue, Glasgow. 

What impact is this likely to have on UK agricultural land?

Potentially, a lot. The government sees UK agriculture as an area where there should be carbon reduction, by which they mean the net reduction of actual carbon dioxide emissions, or emissions of other gases such as methane that are given an equivalence to carbon dioxide (which enables all targets and monitoring to just be expressed as quantities of CO2). The push to Net Zero carbon emissions in 2050, now enshrined in UK law, provides the impetus to do this. As a sector where there is an acceptance and expectation that the government will be involved to provide support, the opportunities to nudge or directly mandate farming and other rural land uses offered by ELMS as it takes the place of the CAP means that there are plenty of potential government levers that can be pulled to influence rural land use and to encourage or require those uses to be consistent with decarbonising UK agriculture. 

As the host country for COP26 the UK government will want to be seen to be delivering success. This seems likely to increase its willingness to drive rapid change in agricultural land use, with a particular focus on decarbonisation, so keep an eye forthcoming proposals over the next six months. 

For wider commentary about Net Zero, visit our Net Zero blog.

Key contact

Kevin Kennedy

Kevin Kennedy Partner

  • Agricultural Disputes
  • Trust and Probate Disputes
  • Estates and Land

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