Press Release

Agriculture can make significant emissions cuts, study finds, showing need for strong EU climate law

May 2, 2017

There is no evidence that reducing emissions in agriculture is more difficult or less cost effective than in other sectors, a new independent study has found. In fact, there is significant untapped potential to reduce farming’s climate emissions, the Institute for European Environmental Policy said. Tomorrow MEPs will vote on expanding the use of controversial forestry credits and other loopholes to help sectors such as agriculture and transport meet their climate targets under the EU’s draft Effort Sharing Regulation. [1]

Transport & Environment (T&E), which commissioned the study, called for climate targets under the Effort Sharing Regulation to be met without abusing forestry credits, starting from a misleading baseline, or exploiting the emission trading system’s (ETS) huge surplus – as big agri lobbyists are advocating.

Carlos Calvo Ambel, transport and energy analyst at T&E, said: “There is a myth that agriculture cannot reduce emissions. Agri lobbyists are using that myth to undermine Europe’s 2030 climate law which would also lead to less ambition on reducing transport emissions. This report shows there is no reason why agriculture should be given a free ride. The EU is supporting European agriculture with billions in taxpayers’ money. Surely, it could use that money to help farmers pull their weight in the climate fight.”

The use of cover and catch crops – to manage soil quality – and crop rotation are among the policy measures available to slash farm emissions in Europe, the study found. But instead agricultural lobbyists are pushing to have some or all of the sector’s climate targets met by forestry credits (called LULUCF), which could mean no actual reductions in emissions are required. This would put at risk the EU’s climate commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Agriculture is responsible for 17% of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe’s non-ETS sectors. The IEEP report follows similar studies [2] on the transport and buildings sectors that showed the 2030 targets could be met while achieving significant economic benefits. For transport, improved vehicle efficiency and electrification will be key to meeting the EU’s 2030 goals.

Carlos Calvo Ambel concluded: “We already know that emission cuts in transport and buildings are possible and create huge benefits in terms of lower oil imports and reduced fuel bills. This study confirms the same potential exists for agriculture. There is no reason why the EU’s 2030 climate targets should be weakened.”

Notes to editors:

[1] The European Parliament’s agriculture committee will vote tomorrow, 3 May, on its report on the European Commission proposal for an Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR). T&E commissioned this study as part of its campaign on the ESR, which sets national climate targets for 2030 and regulates the transport, buildings, agriculture, small industry and waste sectors.

[2] The following studies show that emissions in the transport sector can be reduced by at least 30% by 2030.

Road to 2030: how EU vehicle efficiency standards help member states meet climate targets

SULTAN modelling to explore the wider potential impacts of transport GHG reduction policies in 2030

Reducing CO2 emissions from road transport in the European Union: An evaluation of policy options

Fuelling Europe’s Future. How Auto innovation leads to EU jobs

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