How can we respond to the climate crisis?

How can we respond to the climate crisis?

A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recommended nature-friendly farming and change in diets.

Published on Monday 4 April, the report was the third in the last seven months published by the IPCC. The first, published in August last year, set out the scientific basis behind the climate emergency. This year, the second and third reports have explained the impacts of climate change and recommended ways we can adapt and stop our climate warming even further.

Agroecology – that’s nature-friendly farming like organic – has been consistently recommended by the panel in the two 2022 reports.

The reports point out that nature-based farming methods can help us mitigate and adapt to climate change but also improve resilience and deliver multiple benefits for people and nature. Crucially though, the IPCC report also demonstrates that we urgently need to move towards sustainable, healthy diets.

Launched on the same day, our new 'Regenerate Now' report sets out a firm agreement with the IPCC – we must act now, we cannot delay.

Our Head of Food Policy Rob Percival says, “Efforts to reach net-zero emissions and halt climate change will fail if they do not also halt the destruction of nature and diet-related poor health. It’s hugely disappointing that as the IPCC was making its recommendations, governments again failed to establish meaningful targets for saving biodiversity, such as reducing chemical pesticides and fossil fuel derived fertilisers.

“The deterioration of climate, nature and public health are inextricably linked, and we know that the way we produce and consume food is driving these crises. As detailed in our new 'Regenerate Now' report, governments have made many commitments but achieved little in tackling these issues and this must be the decade of delivery.

“We know that nature-friendly, agroecological farming can sustainably feed our population, restore nature, and slash farming emissions. But to do this the UK must stop hiding from the need to shift to healthy and sustainable diets, with our entire food chain transformed and farmers supported to transition to nature-based solutions across their entire farms – not just around the edges.

“If we had invested in this a decade ago, citizens and farmers might be less exposed now to the spike in fuel, fertiliser, and food prices, and we would be growing more fresh and healthy produce for those who need it the most.”

The Soil Association calls for:

  • Robust, legally binding targets to reduce use of pesticides and synthetic nitrogen fertilisers. The IPCC has called for a sharp end to fossil fuel consumption. Within agriculture, this means shifting away from our reliance on fossil-fuel intensive nitrogen fertilisers towards a more circular approach. 
  • A surge in investment in farmer-led research into alternatives to chemical inputs, and support for farmers to adopt these methods through peer-to-peer learning and training.
  • The IPCC has specifically recommended agroforestry – combining trees with crops or farm animals – as a solution for both adapting to and mitigating climate change. We are calling for funding and training to spark a farmer-led tree revolution.
  • Regenerative forestry. We need diverse forests and farm woodlands managed regeneratively for timber – not single species plantations devoid of nature being grown for bioenergy.
  • A robust Food Bill response to adopt the recommendations from the National Food Strategy, sparking a shift to shorter, more resilient supply chains that supports a wholesale shift to agroecological farming across the UK.

Read more in the 'Regenerate Now' report on the Soil Association's website.