Net Zero

Based on Estimates of Green House Gas emissions, land use in North of England resulted in a net uptake of 0.8 MtCO2e in 2019. This compares to a total emissions of approximately 90 Mt CO2e from all other sectors in the same year[1]. While at present this is a relatively small contribution (<1%) nature recovery activities including afforestation, peatland land restoration and improved soil management have the potential to significantly increase this. National scenario analysis by the Climate Change Committee have estimated that land management based interventions could result in UK wide savings of 12 MtCO2e in 2035, and 30 MtCO2e by 2050[2].

The North of England has a key role to play in this. It is home to the majority of England’s upland peat[3]. This landscape often referred to as England’s rainforest is a key carbon store, however in its current state it is a net source of emissions. Restoring these peatlands is key to achieve net zero targets. The North also has less woodland cover (8.5%) than the rest of the England (10%) and much less that than whole of the UK (13.6%)[4]. The carbon sequestration potential of the North’s coastal wetlands (saltmarshes and mudflats) is also thought to be significant[5]. These are not currently considered within national emissions estimate[6]. The role of nature in supporting the agriculture sector in reducing emissions will also be key[7].

The North is already leading the way through large scale nature recovery programmes which support net zero targets such as the Great North Bog and Northern Forest. The development in carbon trading schemes supported by the development of standards such as the Woodland Carbon Code, the Peatland Carbon Code and the development of codes for soil management and blue carbon are likely to play a key role in driving investment into nature recovery and the associated benefits to the economy and jobs this will create.

Credit: ©Ross Hoddinott