The Agriculture and Fisheries Council had its first debate on 12 October, addressing the potential contribution of agriculture to the EU’s climate package to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 (Fit for 55), writes Morgan Reille.

The outcome of the debate was disappointing, as this turned out to be a missed opportunity for change. The Agricultural Ministers failed to address once again the win-win solution offered by agroecology to climate and biodiversity and we had to listen to the good old erroneous discourse we’ve heard from decision makers in the past, that the agricultural sector has low potential of reducing GHG emissions. 

Only a few of the Ministers insisted on the fact that carbon farming and technologies such as precision farming are key to making the sector more climate-friendly, with most sticking to their usual mantra – as they did during the debates on the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) – that the EU’s climate objectives should not go against the competitiveness and productivity of the sector or jeopardize food security.  

Contrary to the views expressed by the majority of Farm Ministers, the EEB pathway for a net-zero agriculture and agriculture-related land emission showcases that the transition towards agroecology accompanied by dietary changes could meet the food needs of European citizens, while limiting carbon leakage to third countries. Reaching climate neutrality by 2050 could be achieved by reducing non-CO2 agricultural emissions to 110 Mt CO2 equivalent by 2050, which represents a 75% cut compared to 2005 levels. Then balance that with agricultural land-use emissions, which would transform the soil from a net emitter to a sink by 2050. 

The debate earlier this week happened as the European Parliament and Council started this month the legislative work on the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) and Land use, land use change and forestry regulation (LULUCF), two legislative proposals addressing agriculture’s contribution to this new strategy made of 12 legislative proposals all together. The ESR concerns emissions linked to agricultural activities that are mostly non-CO2 emissions from livestock (methane) and fertilizer use (nitrous oxide). The scope of the LULUCF regulation covers agriculture-related land use emissions and carbon sequestration from croplands and grasslands. 

In the upcoming months the two EU co-legislators must find their own position on these proposals, followed by negotiations to reach an agreement on the final version of the Farm to Fork regulations. 

The Fit for 55 package released earlier this year includes 12 legislative proposals representing a key policy milestone, aimed at aligning a wide range of EU policies with the EU’s climate objectives and commitments under the European Green Deal.  

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