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Agriculture and climate change

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Organic farming can mitigate climate change. With the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to be reviewed and member states working on plans to achieve carbon neutrality IFOAM EU calls on agriculture to play its part in preventing climate change.

Organic farming: the benefits

New research shows that organic farming can help to reduce greenhouse gasemissions. A report by IFOAM EU and  the Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau (FIBL) on mitigating climate change and reducing the environmental impact of EU agriculture emphasises the potential of organic agriculture. FIBL's research has shown that converting 50% of EU land to organic by 2030 could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 23% through increased carbon sequestration and less use of fertilisers. Large-scale conversion to organic would mean less energy being used in the production of synthetic fertilisers and emissions from agriculture falling by another 9%. As well as benefiting the environment and animal welfare, organic agriculture would devise strategies to deal with the impacts of climate change.

Political background

Organic farmers want MEPs to ensure that the agricultural sector plays its part in combating climate change. The Agriculture Committee and the  Environment Committee of the European Parliament will soon be voting on the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) and the Land use, Land-use Change and Forestry Regulation. The Commission's proposal on ESR would in effect mean that emissions from agriculture would hardly have to be reduced. Current policies are expected to lead to a decrease of only 2.3% by 2030 and by 2050 emissions from agriculture are expected to constitute a third of all EU emissions. The climate neutrality objective of the Paris Agreement means zero emissions from all sectors by 2050.

Objection to the ESR

As Eric Gall, IFOAM EU Deputy Director and Policy Manager, points out, the CAP is to be reviewed and member states are working on climate neutrality plans, so that not insisting on radical reduction by the agricultural sector by 2030 makes no sense. Moreover, farmers are first in line when it comes to the impacts of climate change. This is why he wants the political message to be lower emissions from the agricultural sector by 2030. If not, he fears involvement and investment in sustainable farming will be delayed.


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