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Europe to Introduce New Climate and Environmental Policies

Under the new scheme, olive farmers can be an important cog in the wheel of Europe’s agricultural sector by providing feedback for improved agricultural and sustainability practices.

Achieving carbon neutrality tops the list of the new European Commissioner's top priorities.
Dec. 11, 2019
By Costas Vasilopoulos
Achieving carbon neutrality tops the list of the new European Commissioner's top priorities.

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The Euro­pean Union has pre­pared a pack­age of new cli­mate and envi­ron­men­tal poli­cies and rules, which could be imple­mented in the con­text of the Euro­pean Green Deal ini­tia­tive if the plans pass muster.

The pack­age of envi­ron­men­tally friendly reforms is sched­uled to be pre­sented to the pub­lic by the new pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, Ursula von der Leyen, on Decem­ber 11.

Olive grow­ers can help by iden­ti­fy­ing the farm­ing prac­tices they can improve to pre­vent soil ero­sion and overuse of water; offer more refuges and har­vest safely for wildlife; reduce the use of agro­chem­i­cals, or store more car­bon in soils.- Jabier Ruiz, Senior Pol­icy Offi­cer, Agri­cul­ture and Food, from the WWF Euro­pean Pol­icy Office

Accord­ing to an early draft pro­posal of the new poli­cies, the first and most impor­tant objec­tive of the new strat­egy is to achieve cli­mate neu­tral­ity” no later than 2050. This trans­lates to zero green­house gas emis­sions from the E.U. mem­ber states by that year, which mainly con­cerns gases emit­ted by burn­ing fos­sil fuels.

Cli­mate neu­tral­ity means that all car­bon emis­sions should be coun­ter­bal­anced by car­bon seques­tra­tion, which is the process of remov­ing and stor­ing car­bon diox­ide from the atmos­phere.

See more: Sus­tain­abil­ity News

The cap-and-trade sys­tem that allows sell­ing and buy­ing of indus­trial gas emis­sions within the Union mem­ber states (plus Ice­land, Nor­way and Liecht­en­stein) will also be extended to include the mar­itime sec­tor.

In advance, Brus­sels will eval­u­ate the pos­si­bil­ity of adding the road trans­port emis­sions to the trad­ing sys­tem, an inten­tion dis­missed by envi­ron­men­tal­ists, many of whom say that the exten­sion of the mea­sure will allow car mak­ers to reduce their effort and costs in pro­duc­ing more envi­ron­men­tally-friendly vehi­cles.

As far as the agri­cul­tural sec­tor is con­cerned, the E.U. intends to adopt a tool­box for alter­na­tives to pes­ti­cides” and improve the exist­ing rules of food data and label­ing to bet­ter inform con­sumers.

Jabier Ruiz, Senior Pol­icy Offi­cer, Agri­cul­ture and Food, from the World Wildlife Foun­da­tion’s Euro­pean Pol­icy Office, told Olive Oil Times that the E.U.‘s Green Deal could lead to more sus­tain­abil­ity in the food sec­tor of Europe.

In terms of agri­cul­ture, we look to the Euro­pean Green Deal to help a tran­si­tion to sus­tain­able food sys­tems in the E.U., for exam­ple, by propos­ing a long-term strat­egy to guide the way,” Ruiz said.

He also pin­pointed the impor­tant role olive farm­ers could play in the new scheme through their feed­back in cru­cial parts of their job, and he acknowl­edged the need to reward their efforts and con­tri­bu­tions.

Olive grow­ers can help by iden­ti­fy­ing the farm­ing prac­tices they can improve to pre­vent soil ero­sion and overuse of water; offer more refuges and har­vest safely for wildlife; reduce the use of agro­chem­i­cals, or store more car­bon in soils,” he said. Pub­lic poli­cies must be used to reward farm­ers that go the extra-mile.”

The pack­age also includes a new motto for the envi­ron­ment, called a green oath: do no harm,” aim­ing to elim­i­nate inco­her­ent leg­is­la­tion that reduces the effec­tive­ness in deliv­er­ing the Green Deal.”

How­ever, not all the E.U. mem­ber states have accepted the new cli­mate strat­egy lying down.

Poland, Hun­gary, and the Czech Repub­lic have opposed the plan by claim­ing that the 2050 zero-emis­sion objec­tive will irrepara­bly harm their economies due to their extended depen­dency on fos­sil fuels.

By con­trast, a group of 10 mem­ber states, includ­ing coun­tries such as France, Den­mark, Swe­den and Spain, have asked the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion for a clear direc­tion” toward a net-zero emis­sions tar­get.

A sum­mit of E.U. mem­ber state lead­ers is set for Decem­ber 12 and 13 in Brus­sels, where the new cli­mate and envi­ron­men­tal poli­cies will be dis­cussed. A unan­i­mous agree­ment is required from the lead­ers in order for the new poli­cies and rules to be for­mal­ized within the E.U.





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