Business

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.

Recent News

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.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

“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.

Advertisement

“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.

Advertisement