Successful Transforming Agriculture event at Exeter University on the 16th October 2019

By Emma Montlake

After an introduction from ELF’s Tom Brenan, participants heard from Peter Chamberlain of DCC’s Climate Emergency Response Group that agriculture made up the largest proportion of Devon’s greenhouse gas emissions (28%) and about the collective approach the Council has set out for actions to achieve the Declaration’s ambition of decarbonising by 2030. Jeremy Roe of the campaign group Too Much Slurry spoke about his community’s continuing experiences of the negative impacts of slurry spreading on their environment and health over a period of some years and the challenges they have faced in seeking to address them.

Unfortunately, the Sustainable Food Trust speaker was unwell and unable to attend so Tom stepped in at the last minute to outline some of the alternative approaches to agriculture which could help with many of the challenges highlighted, drawing in particular on a recent report by the Landworkers’ Alliance, “Food, Farming and the Climate Crisis”.  After a short refreshment break, David Sumner, Environmental Solicitor at Larcomes Legal Limited and ELF member, led a workshop looking at the opportunities and challenges in transforming agricultural practices to reduce carbon emissions. The mixed discussion groups were led by Exeter University students and the resulting conversations very forward-looking and helpful. Attendees clearly valued the opportunity to share experiences and learn from others, and this helps to empower local communities.

Feedback from this pilot event was positive and we are currently seeking funding for a national programme of community events on actions around the Declarations of Climate Emergency. We are extremely grateful to our main sponsors for the Exeter event, the H&G de Freitas Trust, and to Larcomes Legal Limited for their support with the catering.