Copa and Cogeca underline importance of having right policies in place to ensure EU meets climate goals without putting food production at risk

Copa and Cogeca underlined at the EU Farm Ministers meeting in Valletta the importance of having the right policies in place to ensure that the EU meets its climate goals in a balanced way without jeopardising food production.

The move came at Ministers Informal meeting in Valletta where the Maltese Presidency presented a paper on “Climate Change and Water Resources in the EU: Emerging Challenges for Agriculture”.

With concerns growing about scarce water supplies, and countries being hit by weather events this year, the Maltese Presidency focused Ministers talks on tackling the issue of how agriculture is likely to be affected by climate change, and what strategies and instruments need to be prioritised to meet these challenges.

Speaking in Malta, Cogeca President Thomas Magnusson said “European farmers and their cooperatives are facing many challenges today. They will have to produce so that they can contribute to one of the biggest challenges over the next decade: the need to increase food production for a growing world population and also the fight against climate change which threatens food production. The Paris global climate deal clearly states that agriculture must adapt in a balanced way without putting food production at risk. This means that we must take action to adapt and to mitigate climate change in a manner that does not jeopardise food production. We believe that our sector deserves more recognition of the good work done in reducing our emissions and increasing our efficiency in producing food”.

“But our concerns were not taken on board by the Commission’s proposals on the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) and the land use, land use change and forestry sector (LULUCF). This is not coherent with the need to adapt and to mitigate and if we add the fact that the way we manage our forests is also under attack in those proposals, we are very worried that the agriculture sector may be squeezed between the effects of the adverse weather events and the negative effect of legislation”, he warned.

He continued :“Water management is also important for the forestry sector and this was ignored in the ESR and LULUCF proposals. Climate change adaptation risks for forests are not considered in the Commission’s climate proposals even though in 2012 alone, more than 533 thousand hectares were burned by forest fires in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Greece. That is why Copa and Cogeca call upon Ministers to increase the LULUCF credits and link climate change adaptation to the potential for substituting fossil based material and energy with renewable raw material. The Commission’s Impact Assessment clearly indicates that this is possible to the volume of more than two billion credits. So 425 million are well within reach for our forests to mitigate and adapt. We believe that this is something that is worth fighting for in order to be coherent in terms of action and numbers”.

“In terms of policy, current discussions vis a vis the ESR and LULUCF proposals have the potential to inspire further improvements in climate efficient production with a win-win situation for both agriculture and forestry. If we make available 200 million credits from the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and 425 million credits from LULUCF this will be possible”, he stressed.

Mr Magnusson went on to underline the importance of agri-environment measures under EU rural development policy – the second pillar of the CAP – as an important tool to tackle upcoming challenges. Research and innovation also play a crucial role in overcoming these challenges and helping to ensure that water is managed sustainably. But we need demand-driven research focusing on practicable outcomes, ready, easy and fast to use solutions, he said.

 Wrapping up, Mr Magnusson underlined the importance of having a strong CAP in the future not only for farmers but also for society and of maintaining direct payments to farmers to help them face the increasing challenges of climate change.

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