Effort Sharing Decision proposal could include "flexibility" for agriculture

Proposal on new 30% GHG reduction target

Investment in organic agriculture & agroecology are part of the solution for climate change, not offsetting agriculture emissions with forestry.

According to media Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete has indicated that the forthcoming Effort Sharing Decision (ESD) proposal on GHG emissions reduction – currently expected to be issued by 10 July – could include “flexibilities” for the farming sector, based on offsetting by sources of carbon sinks such as forests.

The Effort Sharing Decision will propose how to allocate a new 30% emissions reduction target (part of the EU commitment to reduce GHG emissions by 40% by 2030) among Member States for non-industrial sectors including transport, buildings, waste and agriculture.

The  Member  States’  ESD  targets  will  be  based  on  their GDP, with some consideration given to the cost-effectiveness of emissions reductions for richer member states.

Commissioner Cañete said that the proposal would provide flexibility for agriculture through measures on land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF). In  practice  this  could  mean  offsetting  agriculture  emissions with forestry. This is despite the fact that emissions from agriculture represent a significant share of emissions in many Member States, and are projected to represent one third of total EU emissions by 2050.

The Commission is justifying the potential flexibility for the agriculture sector on the October 2014 European Council conclusions, which explicitly mention “the lower mitigation potential of agriculture” and “the need to ensure food security.”

Flexibility between LULUCF emissions and sinks and the ESD is firmly opposed by NGOs, as it would undermine the overall environmental integrity of the EU climate and energy package for 2030. NGOs and IFOAM EU believe that the agriculture sector should do its part in the European effort to prevent dangerous climate change, and not be exempted from significant action at the expense of other economic sectors. As the SOLMACC project demonstrates, there are many agricultural practices that can reduce emissions, many of which also deliver other environmental benefits and economic advantages for farmers.

IFOAM EU also stresses that the mitigation potential of  agricultural practices and farming systems should not be considered apart from their potential contributions to climate change adaptation, biodiversity, soil health, water pollution and animal welfare.

This news article was sourced from IFOAM EU newsletter no 88 - May 2016. For more information visit