The European Court of Auditors has found that despite spending over €100 billion of EU agriculture funds on climate action in the past seven years, the Common Agriculture Policy has failed to make farming more climate friendly.
In a special report, the Court of Auditors found that greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture have not decreased since 2010 and it has called for the EU Commission to take action to address this.
The report's main conclusion is that almost 50% of total EU climate action spending during the period from 2014 to 2020 has delivered virtually nothing in terms of net greenhouse gas emissions reductions from the 27-nation block.
The report says that €103 billion of the CAP Budget since 2014 has been attributed to climate change mitigation and adaptation in agriculture.
That represents 26% of the CAP budget but 50% of total EU climate spending.
However, it says the money has been spent on agricultural measures that have a low climate mitigation potential and that the CAP does not incentivise the use of effective climate friendly practices.
The findings show that emissions from European livestock have not gone down during the past 10 years, that the CAP does not seek to limit livestock numbers and includes no incentives to reduce herd size.
It also says there was no increase in support for carbon sequestration measures including forestry, agroforestry, or restoring wetlands during the last round of the CAP.
The EU Court of auditors is also calling regular reports about the contribution of the Common Agricultural Policy to climate mitigation.
The main points raised by the EU Auditors
- EU agriculture spending has not made farming more climate friendly
- The new CAP will be €387 billion from 2021 to 2027. The last CAP ran from 2014 to 2020
- More than €100 billion in the CAP spending was earmarked for climate change. That is more than a quarter of all spending was for climate. But emissions from farming have not reduced
- Most measures in the CAP have low climate mitigation potential
- CAP does not incentivise effective use of climate friendly practices
- EU sets the environmental standards and pays out the money
- Objective is to be climate neutral by 2050
- New CAP should have a greater focus on reducing agriculture emissions. New CAP needs to be more accountable and transparent about climate
- Livestock is 50% of emissions. (Cattle is two-thirds of this. So, cattle overall is one-third)
- Chemical fertiliser and manure are one third of emissions
- Land use (cropland/grassland/cultivating drained bogs) is one-fifth of emissions
- Livestock emissions have not gone down for ten years (since 2010). Directly linked to herd size and cattle make up two-thirds overall. Add in emissions for animal feed and the share of herds rises significantly
- CAP does not seek to limit livestock numbers. CAP has no incentive to reduce herd size
- Market measures include promoting animal products. Consumption of animal products has not reduced since 2014
- Chemical fertiliser and manure is one-third of emissions. These increased between 2010 and 2018
- CAP has supported organic farming and planting legumes. These may reduce use of fertilisers but unclear impact on emissions
- Precision farming got little funding despite demonstrable effectiveness
- Climate unfriendly practices - cultivating peatlands supported. Cultivated Peatlands is just 2% of farmland but 20% of emissions
- RDP funds could have been used to restore the peatlands - rarely done
- No increased support for carbon sequestration measures in last CAP. This includes forestry, agroforestry, and grassland from arable
- EU law does not apply polluter pays principle to farm emissions
- Greening schemes did not incentivise farmers to adopt effective climate friendly measures
- Food production is 26% of global emissions. Farming (especially livestock) is most of them
- Member states implement new rules in "CAP strategic plans" designed nationally
- Current rules say member states decide if they will contribute to reducing emissions