Cutting emissions from farming

Climate mitigation potential, costs, trade-offs and co-benefits of measures and the barriers to implementation

Agriculture accounts for a significant share of climate change impact, both directly and indirectly, through supply chains. While agriculture has a role to play in securing climate change targets and may well benefit from greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction measures, it is also crucial to understand potential barriers to implementation as well as to seek co-benefits and avoid trade-offs with other policy objectives. The European Environmental Bureau and Birdlife, in collaboration with local partners in Ireland, Germany, France, Hungary and Spain, therefore commissioned this study to identify the potential barriers to implementation of climate mitigation measures and establish how the post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) can help overcome such barriers.

Based on a literature study, ten measures were identified. To illustrate their potential importance, the potential reduction of GHG emissions and costs were quantified (where possible) and the main co-benefits and trade-offs qualitatively described. In addition, the main categories of barriers were identified, and these used as input for a more detailed discussion in workshops: Financial, Knowledge, Trust and Other (e.g. cultural, legislation).

The study identified several reasons for optimism about the future CAP as well as reasons for concern. Four recommendations for the post-2020 CAP are also presented: set quantitative GHG emission targets at the national level; take a broad ecological perspective to avoid trade-offs and include co-benefits; develop a long-term vision to create certainty for farmers; and shift the focus from solely on agriculture to food, including consumption.