Today climate change is making farming more challenging with an increase in extreme weather events, such as regular and stronger floods and droughts. Harvest losses, irredeemable damage to natural resources and the destruction of farmers’ economic viability are among the most serious effects.
On the other hand, the farming sector is a significant contributor to climate change. Agriculture is responsible for about 10% of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the EU. However, applying the right farming techniques makes a huge difference: Farms can become both more resilient to the effects of climate change and at the same time spare the environment from detrimental climate gases and contribute to food security.
How agriculture can best mitigate and adapt to climate change is the subject of several research projects. The first findings are clear: organic farming that includes some optimised techniques is best equipped to counter climate change.
- Advocates for the promotion in EU policies of organic farming as a solution to counter climate change
- Promotes climate friendly best practices in food processing and farming
- SOLMACC - introducing four optimised farming techniques to help farms become both more resilient to the effects of climate change and reduce greenhouse gases.
On the basis of the conclusions adopted by the European Council in October 2014, which set an overall target of 40% reduction on 1990 levels by 2030, the European Commission developed new proposals for the EU climate and energy package for 2030. This package consists of three pillars:
- The Emissions Trading System (ETS), which covers emissions for the energy sector, with a target of 43% reduction compared to 2005 levels
- The Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR), which covers national emissions from transport, buildings, waste and non-CO2 emissions from agriculture (methane and nitrous oxide), with an average target of 30% emissions reduction compared to 2005 levels
- The land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) proposal, which covers CO2 emissions and removals from forest management, afforestation, reforestation, deforestation, cropland and grazing land.
The Commission presented the ESR and LULUCF proposals on 20 July 2016. Given that LULUCF is a carbon sink in the EU, mainly due to the way forest management emissions and removals are calculated, the Commission assessed different options for integrating the LULUCF emissions and removals into the EU climate and energy framework 2030. After an intense debate with strong concerns voiced over the environmental integrity of the climate package, the European Commission eventually decided to maintain a separate LULUCF pillar, but with a certain level of flexibility allowing Member States to benefit from removals in the LULUCF sector to comply with their ESR target.
These proposals are now passing through the co-decision process and should be adopted in 2017.
IFOAM EU position paper on the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) and Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF)
IFOAM EU has published its new position paper on the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) and the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) Regulation. These proposals, currently discussed in co-decision by the Parliament and Council, are two of the main pillars of the climate change and energy policy package for 2030. The position paper highlights the need for the EU to raise its ambition for 2030, to be in line with its international commitment under the Paris Agreement. IFOAM EU believes that agriculture has potential to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and should do its fair share in the overall EU effort to reduce emissions. Most importantly, IFOAM EU asks for reduced LULUCF flexibility – 190Mt – instead of the proposed 280Mt. Too high a level of flexibility would fail to incentivise action on climate change in the agriculture sector, and would also fail to trigger a transition to more sustainable farming systems and climate-friendly agricultural practices.
IFOAM EU and Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FIBL) report on Organic Farming, Climate Change Mitigation and Beyond
A report ‘Organic Farming, Climate Change Mitigation and Beyond. Reducing the Environmental Impacts of EU Agriculture’ produced by IFOAM EU and FIBL highlights organic agriculture’s potential to mitigate and adapt to climate change. It also underlines the importance of adopting a systemic approach to reducing all the environmental impacts of agriculture.
Video: Transforming agriculture to combat climate change
Climate change mitigation should not be addressed in isolation of the need to adapt to climate change, nor of animal welfare and all the other environmental impacts of agriculture. To spread the message that organic agriculture can contribute to mitigating GHG emissions, but can also improve the environment on other aspects, IFOAM EU has created a short video explaining the co-benefits of organic agriculture. See the benefits or organic farming visualised in the video!
This video is co-financed by the European Union, under the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME). The sole responsibility for this communication lies with IFOAM EU. The EASME is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided.
Infographics about climate change
IFOAM EU produced infographics about the benefits of organic agriculture in the fight against climate change. All infographics are online
These infographics are co-financed by the European Union, under the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME). The sole responsibility for this communication lies with IFOAM EU. The EASME is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided.
Together with other NGOs, we produced an infographic to demonstrate that inaction in agriculture is not an option. LULUCF credits should not be allowed to undermine climate efforts in agriculture.
Produced by Carbon Market Watch, Transport & Environment, Birdlife, IFOAM EU & Fern.
SOLMACC (Strategies for Organic and Low input farming to Mitigate and Adapt to Climate Change) is a demonstration project funded by the EU LIFE programme. While organic farming already creates the right conditions for climate action, in SOLMACC, twelve organic farms in Sweden, Germany and Italy are applying and testing further climate-friendly practices. These practices are adapted to the specific climatic area and farm conditions and are closely monitored by scientists.
The SOLMACC farms are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 15% compared to average farms under similar climatic conditions, as well as to improve their adaption capacity to the negative effects of climate change. The applied practices include:
- optimised on-farm nutrient recycling
- optimised crop rotation
- reduced tillage