Providing environmental evidence to policymakers

An overview of the work AHDB is doing to ensure that policy decisions are fully informed about the full contribution our levy payers are making to net zero.

As government and industry focus increasingly on meeting environmental goals, it is important that their decision-making is fair to farmers. Below are some of the areas where AHDB is working with industry and policymakers, ensuring that the full contribution of levy payers to net zero is recognised, not just GWP100 emissions. 

Our key messages for these groups are:

  • Improve emissions data – many of the emission factors used to calculate agricultural emissions and sequestration are at tier 1 (international averages) – this needs to be brought up to tier 3 (UK farm averages) to accurately assess UK agricultural emissions
  • Baseline – as well as establishing tier 3 factors, a full assessment of the carbon stocks on UK farms is needed
  • Dual report – report using the GWP* metric as well as GWP100 to ensure the short lifespan of methane is taken into account

Food and Data Transparency Partnership

The Food Data Transparency Partnership (FDTP) is a long-term partnership between government, industry and experts that aims to improve the environmental sustainability and healthiness of food and drink through better food data.

One of their objectives is to standardise and improve the methods and data sources used for quantifying the environmental impacts of agri-food organisations and products, including the calculator tools used by farms. They are also working on scope 3 emissions accounting and a methodology for voluntary eco-labelling.

AHDB is part of the eco working group of the FDTP. As part of this, we are feeding back on their proposed approaches to scope 3 and eco-labels, raising these main points to the group chairs:

  • Measuring net carbon rather than emissions only. It is concerning that FDTP wants to align with DESNZ’s wishes that the food and land-based sectors are no different from any other sector in the economy. This will discount agriculture’s ability to remove carbon and ignore the shorter life of its biogenic methane emissions (as recognised by the recent FAO publication, Methane emissions in livestock and rice systems (
  • International GHG Protocol. We have suggested that FDTP waits until the Greenhouse Gas Protocol’s Land Sector and Removals Guidance ie is published in Q2 2024 before making any firm commitments
  • Stakeholder representation and engagement. It is essential that primary producers are well represented in the various FDTP working groups so that data flows throughout the supply chain are understood, encouraged and fair
  • The potential should be considered for an “honest broker” to protect farmer data assets and ensure they are recognised and rewarded for the environmental good they already do and the progress they make. It is particularly important to ensure others do not use their data without payment or permission. This could also contribute to greater consistency in approaches to measurement
  • Pursuit of more accurate emission and sequestration data is vital and AHDB supports the need for improved accuracy and the use of actual data, as opposed to national and international averages. We are wary of oversimplification of such calculations. If a farming business improves its behaviour, it should be rewarded rather than have its efforts “averaged down” by businesses who do less. Such recognition will stimulate businesses to deliver on the scale necessary for success

Click here for the official page on the FDTP

Find out more about the FDTP in this short slide deck

Click here to see a summary of the FDTP eco group’s progress in 2023

Food and Drink Sector Council

The Food and Drink Sector Council (FDSC) is a formal industry partnership with government aimed at addressing the big challenges and opportunities facing the agri-food chain. The FDSC provides strategic advice to the FDTP from an industry perspective. One area the group works on is sustainability, looking at net zero with a focus on scope 3 emissions. The other areas are the future of food, workforce and food supply resilience.

AHDB Chairman Nicholas Saphir sits on the group, representing AHDB.

Climate Change Committee

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) is an independent, statutory body that advises the UK and devolved governments on emissions targets, as well as reporting on progress towards them. It also reports to Parliament on progress made in preparing for and adapting to the impacts of climate change.

AHDB is part of the new Farming Advisory Group that has been set up to feed into the CCC decision-making.

United Nations

In August 2023, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) hosted an event on the circular economy transition for meat and livestock. AHDB’s John Gilliland attended the event and presented to the UN on the importance of considering the multiple public goods of farms, looking at net carbon and baselining. He also shared the results from the ARCZero NI project, which also looks at all these areas.

See the slides John Gilliland presented to the UN here

Institute of Grocery Distribution

The Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) is an industry body focusing on the UK grocery supply chain. It is also advising the FDSC, including on developing eco-labelling options. AHDB has written to IGD to highlight the importance of a net approach to emissions, the multiple public goods farms provide and the need for any potential eco-label scheme to consider all these things, not just farm emissions.