Agriculture in the EU is to become carbon neutral by 2035, the European Commission has announced under its ‘Fit for 55’ package.
The European commission has set out policies under its ‘Fit for 55’ package. The package aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 55% by 2030 and to have the union at net zero by 2055. This is compared to 1990 levels.
Under the plans agriculture is to become climate neutral by 2035. This differs to Ireland's current target of climate neutrality in agriculture by 2050, which is set out in the Department of Agriculture's roadpmap Ag Climatise.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the targets for the package, which form part of the Green Deal, on 14 July.
President von der Leyen said that this climate goal is not just an aspiration, but is now a legal obligation
The plan by the EU-27 is an ambitious one and is leading the way globally with radical plans to be put in place to combat climate change and global warming.
President von der Leyen said that this climate goal is not just an aspiration, but is now a legal obligation and explained that carbon pricing will play a key role in reaching this goal.
Agriculture has huge potential to sequester and store carbon and trade this carbon on a carbon market, but a mechanism is yet to be put in place
She said that “we know carbon pricing works“ and added that emissions of CO2 must have a price that incentivises consumers to choose greener and sustainable options.
Emissions trading will also be made applicable to the aviation and maritime industries.
Agriculture has huge potential to sequester and store carbon and trade this carbon on a carbon market, but a mechanism is yet to be put in place by the Irish Government to allow farmers to trade this carbon on the EU market.
The package sets an overall EU target for carbon removals by natural sinks – such as land use, forestry and agriculture – equivalent to 310m tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2030.
It was outlined that member states will need to expand their carbon sinks to meet this target.
The EU aims to reach climate neutrality in land use, forestry and agriculture by 2035. This target includes emissions from fertiliser and livestock.
There was a large emphasis on the protection of foresty, avoiding deforestation and a target to plant 3bn trees across Europe by 2030.
Paolo Gentiloni, the European Commissioner for Economy, acknowledged that early movers face risks and carbon leakage is a risk with a plan to reduce carbon emissions.
A new carbon border adjustment mechanism will put a carbon price on imports. This will target a selection of products to ensure that this strategy does not result in carbon leakage. Carbon leakage is where emissions are reduced in one country, but produced in another country.
For example, Ireland’s grass-based system is efficient at producing beef and dairy, whereas many other countries where imports come from are not as efficient.
The commission will contribute €500bn to support projects focused on the environment, decarbonisation and sustainability and this support will be available to the private sector.
The plan targets a move towards 40% renewable energy by 2030, while also aiming to reduce energy use.
There are 14 main policies in the ‘Fit for 55’ strategy which are outlined below:
EU forest strategy.
Here in Ireland, with the climate bill still to be passed and the Climate Change Advisory Council yet to decide on sectoral targets, this package will play a role in their decisions going forward.