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Keynote Lecture Highlights Urgency of Climate Action for UK Food System

In a thought-provoking lecture held at Riddel Hall recently, Dr. Pete Falloon, Met Office's lead on Climate Service for Defra on Food, Farming, and the Natural Environment, asked the question "What does climate change mean for the UK food system?"

On the 27 February, Dr Falloon delivered the 2024 George Scott Robertson memorial lecture to a full house of delegates drawn from various sectors.

The annual lecture series was initiated in 1951 to perpetuate the memory of Dr George Scott Robertson who played a prominent part in promoting agricultural progress in Northern Ireland from 1921-1948.

This significant event is a cornerstone in the Northern Ireland agri-food calendar, organised in continuing collaboration between Queen's University, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU), and the Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

Dr. Falloon's presentation unveiled critical insights into the future trajectory of UK weather patterns, emphasising significant shifts expected in the coming years. "The future weather in the UK will continue to see seasonal changes," Dr. Falloon remarked, noting projections of drier and hotter summers by up to 10°C, alongside milder, wetter winters characterised by more intense rainfall events.

Discussing the implications of these climatic shifts on the UK Food System, Dr. Falloon highlighted potential challenges including reduced productivity, infrastructure damage from extreme weather events, and pressures on food supply during temperature extremes. These findings underscore the urgent need for proactive measures to mitigate climate-related risks within the agri-food industry.

He concluded the lecture saying “Alongside well-known risks, there are opportunities for UK food security in a changing climate. However, it is imperative that we implement a whole system approach to adopt and implement potential solutions.”