Copa-Cogeca warns climate, energy policies impose huge burden on European agriculture

Copa-Cogeca warned today that the EU Commissions’ new climate and energy policy framework imposes a huge burden on the EU agriculture sector, threatening the EU’s competitiveness, green growth, employment and food supplies.

In a letter sent to the EU Council, Copa-Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen highlighted the need for caution to be exercised vis-à-vis the option to increase the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction target to 40%, warning this will impose an unnecessary burden on the non-ETS sector which includes agriculture. The issue is set to be discussed by EU heads of state and governments on March 21.

Copa-Cogeca also believes that the EU agriculture and forestry sectors have made serious contributions to mitigating climate change by generating renewable energies for other sectors which are not accounted for in the GHG savings for the agriculture sector. These sectors are at the cutting edge of developing renewable energy sources (RES), thanks to biomass, biofuel and biogas production, and their installations of photovoltaic panels and wind turbines. This also helps to reduce the EU’s dependence on fossil fuels. Moreover, the EU agricultural sector has decreased its GHG emissions by much more than the average reductions achieved by other sectors between 1990 and 2011. But the sector will not be able to maintain this pace in the coming years, with food demand on the rise. We therefore need to ensure that the contribution of these sectors to the GHG emission reduction target does not undermine the competitiveness of the sector. We need to guarantee flexibility between the Effort Sharing Decision and accounting rules on CO2 emissions and removals resulting from the Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) activities. What’s more, the LULUCF sector must not be automatically included in the EU’s 2030 GHG reduction commitment.

Mr Pesonen went on to warn that this policy framework lacks ambition in terms of setting targets for renewable energies like biofuels. A GHG emission reduction target alone is not sufficient to achieve the EU climate change agenda. It must be coupled with targets on RES and with a specific sub-target on RES used in transport. Without national binding targets on RES and no sub-target on RES used in transport nor a CO2 reduction target for transport in the 2030 policy framework, energy from fossil fuels will be consumed instead of renewables, making the GHG reduction target more difficult to achieve. This is not acceptable.

In view of the development of renewable energies, renewable electricity and electric vehicles, the EU’s sub-target in the transport sector must be increased to a figure of more than at least 10%. Support for conventional biofuels must continue after 2020 to allow the further development and production of advanced biofuels. A separate sub-target of at least 2% for these is fundamental.

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