OP-ED: Next CAP must support enhanced 2030 climate target

Climate action

‘The agriculture sector can contribute to the enhanced 2030 climate target, but only if the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) is transformed into a strong, nature-friendly and climate-resilient European agriculture policy’, writes a group of environmental NGOs that represent citizens across European countries.

 The European Parliament has voted for an increase of the EU’s climate target to 60%, while the Commission has proposed to reach at least 55% net emission reductions by 2030. By the end of this year, EU leaders are expected to agree on a much higher 2030 climate target. Such an enhanced EU 2030 climate target will need all sectors to contribute significantly.

Against this backdrop, the new CAP Reform to be debated next week by Agriculture Ministers in AGRIFISH Council, and MEPs in the European Parliament, plays an important role in building a competitive, sustainable, climate friendly and resilient agriculture in Europe and must be guided by the commitments to environmental, climate, and biodiversity protection set in the European Green Deal (EGD) and its Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies.

The current CAP has so far failed to deliver sufficient climate action in the agriculture sector. According to the greenhouse gas emissions data of the European Environment Agency, emissions from European agriculture have only been reduced by 0.369% between 2008 and 2018. This is simply not enough and the EU cannot repeat the same mistake for the next CAP period, if it is serious about addressing the climate emergency to protect Europe’s citizens and its farmers whose lives and livelihoods depend on the land, water, biodiversity and stability of the climate.

The Council and Parliament positions on the new CAP, must support a systemic approach to climate-proofing agricultural development, which focuses its funding support on the application of climate-friendly practices, and must not support misleading proposals which often hide false or even reckless solutions.

This would be the only way to ensure the agriculture sector’s contribution to the enhanced 2030 climate target, while tackling environmental and social challenges in the sector, contributing to a green, equitable and fair reconstruction of Europe after the COVID-19 crisis.

As NGOs representing citizens across EU Member States with a diverse range of natural environments, climates and farming practices, and thus with different realities and perspectives on the ground, we are calling on our governments to take necessary steps to build a competitive, sustainable, climate-proof and resilient agriculture in Europe. In next week’s AGRIFISH Council and Parliament debates, Member States and MEPs should agree on :

  • effectively ring-fencing 50% of the total CAP budget for environmental and climate action so that there is sufficient funding for these priorities in order to guarantee the maintenance of a long-term productive capacity and a strong resilience of European agri-food systems;
  • including ambitious, quantifiable and legally based greenhouse gas emission -reduction targets and environmental objectives at European level, including agriculture-related EU Green Deal targets, to shape a holistic conception of agriculture that includes soil, water, biodiversity, climate and landscape in order to ensure coherence between these intertwined topics;
  • truly reinforcing environmental and climate standards in conditionality and its monitoring to ensure a level playing field across Member States, through a strong and common EU-wide baseline, which prevents inconsistencies, strengthens good agronomic and environmental practices and enforces the compliance with the environmental acquis communautaire and current climate regulations;
  • suitably establishing a new model of direct payments in line with the ‘public money for public goods and services’ principle, in order to shift farmers’ investments into a social and just agroecological transition;
  • addressing a clear objective of reducing animal numbers and density to respond to the climate challenge facing the livestock sector, which is directly responsible for over 60% of agricultural emissions;
  • accounting for emissions associated with imported feed for livestock, such as soybeans, in an integrated and stronger approach that faces deforestation problems in the supplying countries and reduces Europe’ s carbon footprint beyond its borders;
  • showing better transparency and accountability for the budget to strengthen the new performance-based model with improved results-based indicators and a clearer link with spending, while ensuring the right tools to monitor its effectiveness, so that the budget is used efficiently and when necessary, takes back CAP payments from those farmers who do not fulfil their obligations;
  • and preserving a strong, clear and common EU-wide baseline of set rules for all countries to guarantee the maximum of standards at EU level.

Wendel Trio, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe
Ana Márquez and David Howell, SEO/BirdLife, Spain
Cyrielle Denhartigh, Réseau Action Climat France – France
Dan Belusa, Danish 92 – Denmark
Tobias Reichert and Katharina Brandt, Germanwatch – Germany
Shefali Sharma, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy



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