PLAID CYMRU MP for Ceredigion, Ben Lake, has today (Thursday 27 October 2022) warned the UK Government that “prime agricultural land” is being sold to corporations with the intent of “greenwashing” their own emissions rather than a genuine intention to lower their carbon footprint.
During a debate in the House of Commons on the National Food Strategy and food security, Ben Lake MP highlighted that the Green Finance Observatory has expressed concerns about such schemes, warning that they are “fundamentally not about mitigating climate change, or even about removing past emissions, but about enabling future emissions, about protecting economic growth and corporate profits”.
Carbon offsetting schemes allow businesses to invest in environmental projects around the world in order to balance out their own carbon footprints. Welsh family farms are being bought up by multinational companies for credits under schemes such as the UK emissions trading scheme.
In its inquiry on The economic and cultural impacts of trade and environmental policy on family farms in Wales, the Welsh Affairs Committee received submissions from a large number of organisations including Meat Promotion Wales, Conwy Council, NFU Cymru, WLGA, FUW, Wales Federations of Young Farmers Clubs, Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI), Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) and he Tenant Farmers Association (TFA), all expressing concerns regarding the purchase of farmland in Wales for tree planting to off-set the carbon emissions of companies.
Mr Lake also warned that in the context of climate change, there is a more urgent need to become more self-sufficient in the production of fruit and vegetables.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Ben Lake MP said: “We need proper land use planning and consideration across the four nations of the United Kingdom. I’m very concerned that when it comes to certain carbon offsetting schemes, prime agricultural land is being sold to corporations with the intent of greenwashing their own emissions rather than actually contributing to the nationwide effort of reducing our carbon footprint.
“The Green Finance Observatory has expressed concerns with the current system – the UK emissions trading scheme – saying that “the elephant in the room is that offsets are fundamentally not about mitigating climate change, or even about removing past emissions, but about enabling future emissions, about protecting economic growth and corporate profits’.
“Too often in Ceredigion, we have far too many farms that were prime agricultural productive land that have now been bought by these corporations not to reduce their own emissions but to greenwash them, to allow them to continue business as usual but in the process reduce our own productive capacity.”
In his speech, Mr Lake also called for greater self-sufficiency in the context of climate change:
“When we look to the future of our food security, climate change poses a real significant risk. We’re only self-sufficient to the tune of 16% of the fruit that we consume and DEFRA’s food securities report noted that there are real concerns about the water availability for fruit and vegetable production in many of the countries on which the UK currently depends particularly on the equator but also the Mediterranean region.
“When we discuss food security, we really need to think about growing more of our own. Food inflation is having a shocking impact on families across the country. A number of these foodstuffs could be alleviated to some extent, not completely but to some extent, if we had greater self-sufficiency.”