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It is widely accepted that our climate is changing as more greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere as a result of our activities.

To contribute to global emissions reductions, the Scottish Government has committed to some of the toughest statutory emissions reductions in the world by adopting a net zero carbon emissions target by 2045.   Scottish Government figures suggest that in agriculture and related land use contributed to around 23.9% of Scotland’s emissions.

Climate change and population growth over the next thirty years are likely to increase the cost of farm inputs such as fuel, feed and fertilisers, along with demand for food from both home and overseas.  This will happen against a backdrop of unpredictable weather.

We all need to take steps to reduce emissions to benefit our environment, whilst also improving farm resilience to cope with fluctuating market conditions and the increased risks brought with unpredictable weather patterns.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) - Where from on the farm?

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

Burning fossil fuels.

Use of oil, diesel and electricity on farm. CO2 could make up anywhere from 2% to 10% of the farms emissions, depending on farm type and activities.

Lifetime in atmosphere; around 65-80% of CO2 emissions are around for 20 to 200 years (remainder >1000s years)?

Methane (CH4)

Natural bi-product of enteric fermentation.

Could make up around 40% of emissions, depending on farm type. Methane is around 21 times more potent than CO2. Lasts approximately 12 yrs in atmosphere.

Nitrous Oxide (N2O)

Soils naturally produce nitrous oxide but levels can be increased by cultivation and N fertiliser. Could make up around 50%+ emissions depending on farm activities. Nitrous oxide is around 310 times more potent than CO2. Lasts approximately 115 yrs in atmosphere.

Read our Practical Guide: Greenhouse gas emissions (2.54 MB, PDF)