An environmental conference taking place this week – Countryside COP – hopes to showcase and inspire actions to tackle the climate crisis in rural communities ahead of COP26.
The Countryside COP, whose organisers include the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), takes place from October 11 – 15, 2021.
UFU president Victor Chestnutt said: “As part of the Agriculture and Land Use Alliance (ALA), we’re looking forward to hosting the first-ever Countryside COP event kicking off next week.
“A huge amount of planning and effort has gone into creating a fantastic lineup across the five days to show what the agri-food industry has accomplished to date, and how it can do much more to capitalise on the contribution of agriculture and land use as we work towards a net-zero economy.
“Various rural and agri-food organisations are taking part in Countryside COP which is taking place from October 11-15.
“They’ll be hosting their own seminars to tell their individual stories covering the opportunities, challenges and successes that they experienced to achieve climate mitigation and net-zero action.
“Every one of us has a role to play to reach net-zero and climate action across the board is vital.”
The UFU, alongside the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), is also co-hosting an agriculture and climate change event on October 27, 2021.
Guest speakers include: Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots; Lord Deben, chair of the UK Climate Change Committee; and Prof. Alice Stanton from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
The programme opens with speeches by countryside leaders on Monday (September 11), followed by a seminar on organic fertilisers, and an explainer of greenhouse gas emission metrics.
Tuesday includes discussions on on-farm energy generation and the role of rural communities in meeting net-zero and what a ‘just transition’ should mean.
Wednesday’s programme includes sessions specifically tailored to arable farmers and tenant farmers, while Friday’s programme considers actions for the livestock sector, as well as challenges facing agricultural education and the sugar beet industry.
‘Farmers are part of the climate change solution’
The event aims to raise awareness about climate issues, highlighting the positive action already underway in Northern Ireland, while also providing practical examples of action farmers can take.
Chestnutt said: “Our farmers are part of the climate change solution and are committed to tackling the global issue head-on, which is why it’s so important to show the many ways in which they can do this.
“This event is another great opportunity to highlight the positive work of our agri-food sector and will provide an important platform for our farmers.
“We will be able to hear from them about what they are already doing to reduce emissions on-farm and their priorities and concerns as the UK as a whole, works towards achieving net-zero ahead of the big event in November.”