Brussels (Brussels Morning) Funds allocated by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to counter climate change have been ineffective in curbing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, EU auditors have found.
The report published by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) on 21 June reveals that the 100 billion euro of CAP funds designated for climate action — a quarter of the budget — had little impact on GHG emissions, a situation that hasn’t changed significantly since 2010.
ECA examined the period between 2014 and 2020 based on livestock farming, chemical fertilisers, manure, and land use — both cropland and grassland.
GHGs steady since 2010
According to the study, livestock emissions, which account for about half of the total emissions from agriculture, have not decreased since 2010, ECA stated.
“The EU’s role in mitigating climate change in the agricultural sector is crucial, because the EU sets environmental standards and co-finances most of member states’ agricultural spending”, Viorel Ștefan, the ECA member responsible for the report said.
“The CAP mostly finances measures with a low potential to mitigate climate change”, the ECA noted.
Livestock and peatlands
The EU auditors were critical of the lack of measures designed to limit or reduce livestock numbers, given that they account for 50% of agriculture emissions. They also urged the Commission to provide support to farmers who cultivate drained peatlands, an area representing 20% of GHGs.
“We recommend that the Commission takes action so that the CAP reduces emissions from agriculture, takes steps to reduce emissions from cultivated drained organic soils, and reports regularly on the contribution of the CAP to climate mitigation”, the EU auditors stated.
A Corporate Europe Observatory researcher, Nina Holland, denounced the CAP for having become “one of the most blatantly misleading European policy areas”. Describing the agricultural policy, she said it “pretends to support farmers” and to make agriculture more sustainable, but “it does neither”.
Between now and 2027, the EU is to make some 387 billion euro available through the CAP for rural development and support for farmers, with a series of new policies scheduled to kick in effectively from 2023. Next week, the Council resumes discussions on finalising the deal on the agricultural policy.