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EU Court of Auditors: greening agriculture fails

Despite billions of euros that should contribute to climate friendly agriculture, there is little or no progress

By: N. Peter Kramer - Posted: Wednesday, June 23, 2021

"While the EU continues to sharpen its overall climate ambitions, emissions from the agricultural sector are not falling or are falling only marginally."
"While the EU continues to sharpen its overall climate ambitions, emissions from the agricultural sector are not falling or are falling only marginally."

N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column

Despite billions of euros that should contribute to climate friendly agriculture, there is little or no progress. Sometimes subsidies even help to maintain greenhouse gas emissions.

Long standing attempt to make EU agriculture policy green continue to fail. In an extremely critical report, the EU Court of Auditors concluded that although an increasing proportion of agricultural subsidies should contribute to climate policy, the effect is not forthcoming. On the contrary, the subsidies sometimes even contribute to maintaining greenhouse gas emissions and to ‘climate unfriendly practices’, according to the Court of Auditors.

The report comes on the right moment! The discussion about the future of the EU agricultural policy is running high at the moment. While the EU continues to sharpen its overall climate ambitions, emissions from the agricultural sector are not falling or are falling only marginally. For example, farmers who protected nature and biodiversity received an extra incentive on top of the usual subsidy. However, the Court of Auditors writes, ‘although more than a quarter of all agricultural expenditure in the 2014-2020 period (more than €100 billion) was devoted to climate policy, agricultural greenhouse emissions have not decreased since 2010’.

The European Commission wants to sharpen its ambitions but most memberstates are fiercely opposed. Last week, German agriculture minister Julia Klockner lashed out hard at Green Deal Commissioner Frans Timmermans, who she said is interfering to much in the negotiations between the member states and the European Parliament on the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Livestock is responsible for about half of agricultural emissions, but EU’s agricultural policy does not seek to limit or provide incentives to reduce the livestock sector. On the contrary, the European Commission continues to promote the sale of animal products, including by subsidising advertising campaigns.

The EU, ‘it is a wonderful world’….

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