Under the title “Fit for 55”, the EU Commission proposes the launch and revision of no less than twelve policy initiatives today. Copa and Cogeca share the objective of achieving carbon neutrality as soon as possible in all sectors; agriculture and forestry being key players. However, the way to reach this very ambitious objective is another issue and EU farming organisations will remain vigilant on many points featured in the package.
Although they are not the only sectors targeted by the Fit for 55 package, the agriculture and forestry sectors are mentioned in many of the proposals presented today by the Commission. Whether it is the revisions of LULUCF, the Renewable Energy Directive, ETS, effort sharing or the proposals on CBAM, many options are now on the negotiation table. Copa and Cogeca welcome this effort. The agriculture and forestry sectors are the only ones that can naturally store carbon while continuing to guarantee EU strategic food and biomass supply.
Reacting to the overall package, Pekka Pesonen, Copa-Cogeca Secretary General said, “Evaluating the impact of such a reform package as a whole for agriculture is a complex task as the measures and mechanisms proposed to reduce our emissions by at least 55% by 2030 are numerous and their effects complex and cumulative. With the Green Deal, there is a clear pattern that is being repeated by the Commission. The EU has a strong vision for the internal market that we can support but when it comes to ensuring consistency with international trade, concrete solutions, especially in agriculture, are still lacking”.
On the internal market, the proposals made by the Commission are numerous and will require detailed evaluation. In the LULUCF regulation, Copa and Cogeca take note of the ambitious objective of a greenhouse gas removal target of 310 million tons of CO2 equivalent by 2030. Agriculture and forestry need clarity on how the Commission plans to achieve these goals on the ground. Copa and Cogeca are looking forward to the publication of the F2F Carbon Farming Initiative at the end of the year. Following the call enshrined in the recently adopted European Climate Law, market-based carbon crediting schemes in a new business model should play a central role instead of direct incentives. We believe that this policy, if it considers farming contributions and not only the emissions, will be an effective mechanism. European farmers and cooperatives are already taking initiatives to do carbon accounting as they see carbon farming as a relevant source of additional income and a promising trend.
For forestry, economic incentives to enhance sustainable forest management are a key driver to increase the use of renewable raw materials to substitute fossil-based ones.
On road transport decarbonisation, certified crop-based biofuels constitute the most-used biofuels in the EU, and it is assumed that the transport emission savings result largely from their use. Crop-based biofuels must not be excluded from the mix. While electric vehicles have an important role to play in saving emissions, they will not be a solution fit for all European consumers, especially in rural areas and agricultural off-road vehicles, which are heavily dependent on liquid fuels. The 7% cap on crop-based biofuels should be reassessed and revised upwards to provide flexibility for each Member State, while automotive manufacturers should be allowed to continue improving the efficiency of internal combustion engines for solutions like higher biofuel blends and CNG/LNG.
When it comes to trade and the avoidance of carbon leakage, the key mechanism proposed by the Commission is the establishment of the carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM). The Commission recognises that the ETS system, even if revised, will not be sufficient to prevent possible dumping from countries that do share our climate ambitions. With the implementation of the Farm to Fork strategy, ensuring fair competition will become a growing concern for agriculture. Although we support the idea of setting up a CBAM for agricultural products (provided that some conditions are met), the Commission decided to exclude agriculture. At the same time, the fertiliser sector will be included. This unfair double-penalty will be unbearable for farmers.
On this mechanism as in the rest of the package, coherence is key. As is often the case, these problems of consistency will be found in the details, and this will only become apparent when cross-checking the Commission’s impact assessments.
O artigo foi publicado originalmente em Copa Cogeca.