The Danish climate minister said that EU farmers must pay for their greenhouse gases emissions. This comes as Brussels struggles with reining in a sector which is projected to be the biggest polluter of the EU by 2040.
Lars Aagaard stated in an interview that farmers who produce the least amount of carbon per tonne should have the most success on the European Market. It could be done by charging farmers for their emissions through the EU’s cap and trade emissions-trading system, which already covers heavy industry sectors like power generation.
“We need to start discussing how we can achieve a pan-European legal framework. . . Aagaard stated that the agricultural sector should be included in something similar to ETS.
Denmark is part of a group of nations that are pushing the EU to set a goal of reducing emissions in the EU by 95% by 2040, compared to 1990 levels. Aagaard stated that this goal would not be possible unless the pollution coming from farms is reduced.
It’s not an easy task. He said that it would not be possible to achieve this in the near future.
According to European Commission officials, the EU is looking into ways to include the agriculture sector in the ETS. Since 2005, the ETS has reduced emissions in the electricity sector by 37%.
The Danish government is considering a carbon tax for its beef and dairy products. It has stated that this is crucial to meeting their own climate goals. This would make Denmark the only country after New Zealand that introduces a carbon tax. Policymakers in Brussels have periodically attempted to deal with pollution from agriculture. The sector is the third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the EU but is set to become the largest by 2040 as other industries decarbonise at a faster rate.
There hasn’t been much progress made. According to the European Environment Agency, agricultural emissions declined only by 3 percent between 2005 and 2020. Comparatively, emissions in the building sector fell by 31 percent and those in the transport industry dropped 7.6 percent.
On the basis of current measures in place by member states, it is not expected that reductions will increase before 2030.
The farming sector is seen as politically sensitive due to the power of the agricultural lobby at Brussels. There are also fears that requiring it to be more sustainable could lead protest movements such as BBB Farmers’ Party, which won the most votes during local elections in Netherlands in March.
The BBB opposed The Hague’s attempts to reduce nitrous dioxide pollution, which has been exacerbated by nitrogen fertilisers.
The ETS was not revised in December last year to include transport in the agricultural industry. Also, Brussels’ efforts to include large farms under the new industrial emission rules of the EU are likely to get watered-down after the heavy resistance by EU member states.
A new European Commission won’t be formed until after the EU elections in June next year.
One of the ideas that policymakers are putting forward is to make supermarkets pay for the carbon emission permits associated with the food they sell. They hope this will encourage them to purchase goods produced in a way that emits the least amount of CO2. Officials close to the discussion said that the fragmented sector and small number of producers would make verification difficult.
Aagaard said that he was sure that the “risk” of forcing farmers to pay emissions taxes would favor larger industrial farms. . . Not all farmers or agricultural activity would benefit to the same degree from such a scheme.”