A British farmer leading the sector’s global lobbying group has put agriculture at the centre of the UN Climate Summit in New York.
Peter Kendall, president of the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO), joined more than 120 world leaders at the summit, which is aiming to advance action on the ground that will reduce emissions and build resilience to the impacts of climate change.
Mr Kendall, a former head of the NFU in the UK, has been part of a number of meetings at the summit.
He said: “Farmers are on the frontline of the climate change agenda. Farmers are not only directly impacted by climate change, but are also vital in implementing solutions we need to in order to adapt and mitigate.
“Farmers, especially women farmers, have daily interaction with the environment. Thus farmers are key drivers in the development of sustainable agricultural practices that provide food and renewable materials to support livelihoods. We must reposition farmers at the centre of the agriculture sector to become more resilient to climate risks.”
The issue of climate change is seen as crucial to the agriculture sector because of the role it can play in reducing greenhouse emissions, but also because those working on the land are often on the front line of environmental changes.
The importance of the industry has been reflected in the fact that NFU vice president Guy Smith has been selected to join the advisory board of the UK’s Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.
Mr Smith said: “It’s only last week that University of Exeter scientists suggested that food-growing nations, including the UK, could be ‘overwhelmed’ by pests within the next 30 years, as climate change helps them spread. Research like this should shake off the air of complacency about agricultural production in the UK as it faces an uncertain future climate.
“Energy production through technologies such as bioenergy crops and solar has also become a political football, so the ECIU drive to ensure that such discussions are underpinned by evidence is welcome. I am therefore very pleased to add farming’s voice to those already on the ECIU board.”
The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit is a non-profit initiative that supports debate on the issue of global warming.
Its Advisory Board includes climate scientists, energy policy experts, leaders in fields such as health, national security and faith, politicians from all parties and representatives from civil society organisations such as the Women’s Institute.