€100B in E.U. Spending Fails to Reduce Emissions in Ag Sector, Audit Finds

The previous Common Agricultural Policy did not provide adequate incentives for farmers to reduce emissions, the auditors said.
By Ephantus Mukundi
Jul. 8, 2021 11:22 UTC

A spe­cial report from the European Court of Auditors (ECA) says that more than €100 bil­lion of European Union agri­cul­tural fund­ing aimed at mit­i­gat­ing cli­mate change has not done much to reduce green­house emis­sions from the agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

According to ECA, the cli­mate change man­age­ment meth­ods sup­ported by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) had not led to a decrease in green­house gas emis­sions since 2010.

The audi­tors also con­cluded that about 50 per­cent of total E.U. cli­mate spend­ing from 2014 to 2020 had done noth­ing to reduce green­house gas emis­sions over that period. In addi­tion, they said that the for­mer CAP did not have solid incen­tives for peo­ple and busi­nesses to engage in cli­mate-friendly prac­tices.

See Also:New CAP Provides Plenty of Opportunities for Italian Olive Growers

The E.U.’s role in mit­i­gat­ing cli­mate change in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor is cru­cial because the E.U. sets envi­ron­men­tal stan­dards and co-finances most of the Member States’ agri­cul­tural spend­ing,” said Viorel Ștefan, mem­ber of the European Court of Auditors who wrote the report.

We expect our find­ings to be use­ful in the con­text of the EU’s objec­tive of becom­ing cli­mate-neu­tral by 2050,” he added. The new Common Agricultural Policy should have a greater focus on reduc­ing agri­cul­tural emis­sions, and be more account­able and trans­par­ent about its con­tri­bu­tion to cli­mate mit­i­ga­tion.”

The audi­tors issued the report after exam­in­ing and ana­lyz­ing the cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tions prac­tices set out by CAP from 2014 to 2020. These mea­sures aimed to reduce green­house gas emis­sions from chem­i­cal fer­til­iz­ers and manure, live­stock and land use.

They also checked whether the incen­tives were more effec­tive than the mea­sures set out in the pre­vi­ous CAP, which ran from 2007 to 2013.

The audi­tors found that live­stock emis­sions account for more than half of the green­house gas emis­sions attrib­uted to agri­cul­ture, adding that the CAP did not reg­u­late live­stock num­bers or pro­vide ade­quate incen­tives to reduce them.

According to the audi­tors, this explained why the emis­sions have not declined since 2010 despite the E.U. ear­mark­ing €103 bil­lion for cli­mate mit­i­ga­tion.

However, the audi­tors acknowl­edged that the new CAP passed by the E.U. Agricultural Council in June might improve the sit­u­a­tion. The new CAP has more strict envi­ron­men­tal require­ments for farm­ers who want to receive fund­ing.

Each coun­try must sub­mit a national strate­gic plan for its share of fund­ing. All pay­ments will be tied to how well ben­e­fi­cia­ries fol­low envi­ron­men­tal rules, includ­ing reduc­ing green­house emis­sions by 55 per­cent by 2030.

With these new require­ments, the archi­tects of the pol­icy aim to shift money from inten­sive farm­ing to pro­tect­ing nature and pro­mot­ing bio­di­ver­sity, all of which they hope will help lower green­house gas emis­sions.

Olive grow­ers across the con­ti­nent are expected to be among the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the new CAP. In 2016, the International Olive Council esti­mated that for every liter of vir­gin olive oil pro­duced in a mature semi-inten­sive orchard with an aver­age crop yield,” there is net car­bon seques­tra­tion of 8.5 kilo­grams.

Olive oil pro­duc­tion helps to com­bat global warm­ing by absorb­ing more atmos­pheric CO2 than it pro­duces and fix­ing it in the soil and bio­mass,” the IOC said.


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