EU Farming Policy Failing To Combat Climate Change: Report

By Dayeeta Das
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EU Farming Policy Failing To Combat Climate Change: Report

The European Union's huge subsidy programme for agriculture is failing to rein in greenhouse gas emissions from farming, despite €100 billion of such subsidies being labelled as climate spending since 2014, auditors have said.

The environmental impact of agriculture is under increased scrutiny, as the EU seeks to eliminate its net emissions by 2050 - including the 10% of emissions that come from farming.

EU negotiators will this week attempt to agree new rules for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the farming subsidy scheme that will spend €387 billion, a third of the EU budget for 2021-2027. A key sticking point is whether the money should be tied to protecting the environment.

A report by the European Court of Auditors on Monday said so far, the CAP has failed to support more climate-friendly farming.

Last month, European Union negotiators failed to agree reforms to the bloc's huge farming subsidy programme.


'Agricultural Emissions'

"The €100 billion of CAP funds attributed during the period 2014-2020 to climate action had little impact on agricultural emissions," report author Viorel Stefan said.

The auditors said the new CAP should incentivise emissions reductions from livestock and fertilisers, and pay farmers to restore drained land so it can absorb and store CO2.

They said in future, the European Commission should vet countries' plans to spend their CAP money to ensure they do not risk raising emissions.

The auditors said the CAP has promoted animal products and encouraged farmers to not reduce their livestock numbers because then they would receive less money. Livestock emissions, mostly from cattle, make up half of emissions from farming. They have not decreased since 2010.


Organic Farming

EU subsidies have supported practices to reduce fertiliser use, such as organic farming, but it is not clear if this has reduced emissions, the report said. Chemical fertilisers and manure produce nearly a third of farming emissions.

Meanwhile, CAP funds have supported climate-damaging practices, by paying farmers to cultivate drained peatlands that emit 20% of EU agricultural emissions.

News by Reuters, edited by ESM. For more Supply Chain news, click here. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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