In 1988, the band Talking Heads imagined a landscape where the familiar features were replaced with “(Nothing But) Flowers”, much to the disapproval of the inhabitants of that landscape who liked it the way it was. 

35 years on from the release of that song we are 27 years away from 2050 when UK government has pledged to reach Net Zero, and whilst Britain may not be quite covered in daisies by then there will need to be huge changes to how the land is used to meet that aim. 

To meet government targets it is proposed that 840,000 hectares of the UK will need to be covered in trees by 2050; by 2030 400,000 hectares will be protected for nature; 500,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitat will be established by 2042. Oh, and they have also pledged to build 300,000 homes a year as well.  

This great piece from the FT asks the question of whether Britain is big enough to contain all of these projects as well as producing enough food to feed the nation. 

Through statistics from the Royal Society, the authors posit the thought that without significant changes to food consumption and farm productivity the UK would need 53% more land than it has got to meet the government’s ambitions.

Overall, to have a chance of meeting the 2050 Net Zero target, contributions are going to be needed from government, farmers, land managers and consumers; there may not be room for anyone to stick to what they’re doing now. 

To combat climate change and still be able to have enough to eat, like the people of David Byrne's landscape, we may all have to get used to a different lifestyle