Time to CAP agricultural pollution say MEPs

The European Parliament has called for future payments to EU farms to be linked to progress on cutting harmful air pollution.

In a motion backed by an overwhelming majority of MEPs, the European Parliament argued that payments under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy should depend on the implementation of mandatory measures for curbing pollution.

Four of the six MEPs behind the resolution were British, and were already praised in META for “putting your lungs before Brexit” last year.

European farms are responsible for 94% of ammonia and and 40% of methane emissions in the EU, with serious consequences for human health and the natural world.

MEPs have pointed out that ammonia emissions alone account for around 50% of the health impacts of air pollution in urban areas, as it is a key precursor to particulate matter.

Agriculture is the third biggest source of primary ‘PM10’ particulate matter pollution in the EU, according to the EEA.

Marghertia Tolotto, Clean Air Policy Officer at the EEB said:

“Many people associate the countryside with nice fresh air, but unfortunately agriculture is a major source of some of the most harmful pollution, which is blown across to towns and cities.”

Tolotto said that not enough is being done to address the problem.

EU laws require governments to cut ammonia emissions but progress is slow. The European Union has no air pollution laws to tackle methane emissions. 

Tried-and-tested and cost-effective techniques exist that can cut emissions from agriculture but there is currently no requirement for farmers to deploy them.

The motion also highlighted how the agriculture sector was falling behind as other industries make efforts to tackle emissions: “the costs of air pollution control in Europe are significantly lower in the agricultural sector than in other sectors where more stringent emission controls have already been implemented“.

The European Parliament’s demand came as part of motion titled: “A Europe that protects: Clean air for all”.

The European Commission has made protecting Europeans a central part of its work programme and has taken action to pursue governments that are failing to meets air quality requirements. Air quality now looks set to be a major issue in the European elections this May. 

The report also called for policies to tackle industrial and transport emissions as well as detailing other measures for improving indoor and outdoor air quality in the EU.