The role of agriculture and farming in the struggle to curb the rise in GHG emissions and climate changes has been the main issue at the European Union agriculture ministers meeting yesterday in Växjö, Sweden. The theme is a priority area for the Swedish Presidency.
“There is strong commitment to the issue of climate change among the ministers and the organisations that took part in the meeting. The conditions for agriculture are largely dependent on the climate, and conversely, agriculture affects the climate through greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, the green industries are a part of the solution to the climate change issue, as they produce renewable energy,” says Minister for Agriculture Eskil Erlandsson.
Global greenhouse emissions are currently increasing, and agriculture accounts for between 5 and 26 per cent of EU Member States’ total emissions.
Efforts are already being made to reduce the impact of agriculture on the climate. Adapting crops’ access to nitrogen and animal fodder to the needs that exist are two ways of reducing agriculture’s impact on the climate. Increasing numbers of farmers are also making use of waste products from production to create energy such as biogas.
The ministers stressed the importance of reducing the impact of agriculture on the climate, both globally and at EU level. Efficient, competitive and responsible agriculture has the ability to reduce its climate impact without production, and with it emissions, having to move abroad.
Adaptation of EU agriculture to a changed climate when water resources become more scarce and patterns in the spread of diseases change is an urgent issue. A warmer climate can also lead to heat stress in plants and animals that are not adapted to high temperatures.
There is consensus among the ministers that the role of the EU is to be proactive and provide long-term support to the adaptation of the agricultural sector by building up knowledge and increasing cooperation in the EU. It is also vital that knowledge is disseminated to the farmers who, to a great extent, have to make decisions and take measures.
As for the spread of diseases and pests, it is important that the climate change issue is taken into consideration in the current review of Community legislation. This can be achieved, for example, through well adapted systems for early detection and warning, as well as coordinated actions when deemed necessary.
At the Agricultural and Fisheries Council in October, the issue of the Common Agricultural Policy and its future will be discussed. The climate change issue will be an important part of the discussion initiated at that time.
It is of great importance for the EU agricultural sector that a global agreement is reached in Copenhagen in December.
During the Presidency there are many activities focusing on the climate change issue and land-based industries. The conferences on ‘Climate-smart food’ and ‘Rural Areas Shaping the Future’ are two examples.