Why Scotland’s Climate Change Plan needs an organic target

Agriculture has to be part of Scotland’s mission to address climate change. At the moment agriculture is lagging behind waste and energy in making significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, while accounting for nearly a quarter of Scotland’s emissions. Including a target of 5% of Region 1 land in organic management by 2020 in the new Climate Change Plan sets Scotland on a trajectory towards a more sustainable food system, which is good for the environment, and supports rural development too. In this blog post, we lay out some of the arguments for putting weight behind organic farming.


Environmental benefits of organic agriculture:

  • Research consistently identifies that organic farming uses less energy and delivers lower greenhouse gas emissions per unit of area and in most cases per unit of product. [1]
  • A meta analysis found higher soil carbon stocks and sequestration rates in organically managed soils.[2]
  • An FAO study calculated that emissions from organic agriculture could be 20% lower due to the absence of synthetic fertilisers. It also outlined the potential for the development of more resilient food systems through organic agriculture.[3]


Moreover, it is clear that there is increasing demand for organic food. This week, Tesco announced that organic sales were up 15% on the previous years. With interest in organic produce going beyond fruit and vegetables and now including fish, dairy produce and grocery items, such as olive oil, pasta and cooking sauces.[4]


In addition to reducing energy use and emissions, organic farming:

  • Represents an opportunity for Scottish farming to be more profitable.[5]
  • Uses very few antibiotics.[6]
  • Supports more biodiversity above and below ground.[7]


Nourish is asking everybody to send a letter to their MSP to support the inclusion of on organic target in the Climate Change Plan. You can find more information about our campaign for a #ScotOrganicTarget here.


[1] Lynch, D. et al The Carbon and Global Warming Potential Impacts of Organic Farming: Does It Have a Significant Role in an Energy Constrained World? Sustainability 2011, 3, 322-362; doi:10.3390/su3020322

[2] Andreas Gattinger et al., (2012), Enhanced top soil carbon stocks under organic farming, http://www.pnas.org/content/109/44/18226

[3] Nadia el-Hage Scialabba et al., (2010), Organic agriculture and climate change.

[4] Organic food sales soar as shoppers put quality before price, 19.02.16 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/19/sales-of-organic-food-soar-fruit-vegetables-supermarkets

[5] David Crowder et al., (2015), Financial competitiveness of organic agriculture on a global scale, http://www.pnas.org/content/112/24/7611

[6] Tracy Misiewicz and Jessica Shade, (2016), Organic Food and Farming as a Tool to Combat

Antibiotic Resistance and Protect Public Health, https://www.organic-center.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/TOC_Report_AntibioticResistance_FINAL.pdf

[7] Organic Research Centre, (2010), The Biodiversity benefits of organic farming, http://www.organicresearchcentre.com/manage/authincludes/article_uploads/ORC%20Biodiversity%20benefits%20of%20organic%20farming%20v4.pdf