EU gives carbon farmer crucial role

16-12-2021 | |
Photo: Bert Jansen
Photo: Bert Jansen

Agriculture plays a crucial role in carbon sequestration to offset greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, there is still much uncertainty as to how this should be shaped.

The European Commission will present plans this week in which, among other things, carbon sequestration by agriculture (carbon farming) plays a central role. One of the principles is that sequestering carbon should not be at the expense of food production.

Climate neutral by 2035

Next year, the European Commission wants to draw up rules for carbon certificates that should also contribute to a revenue model for farmers. The Commission has previously indicated that the goal is for agriculture to operate in a climate-neutral manner by 2035, and that from that year onwards, agriculture will sequester additional carbon as compensation for industrial activities and in return for payment. A system of payment from industry to agriculture for carbon sequestration should be established. At the same time, methane emissions from agriculture will also be curbed.

Also read: “Forward-thinking farmers the key to carbon markets”

Encouraging carbon sequestration

The European Commission assumes that European member states will stimulate carbon sequestration, among other things, through the Common Agricultural Policy (National Strategic Plan). According to the European Commission, the conversion of agricultural land into permanent grassland can contribute to this, as can the creation of forests.

In a leaked draft of the plans to be presented this week, the European Commission says several barriers still need to be removed. Farmers who invest in carbon farming are already facing additional costs, while there are great uncertainties about the possibilities of earning from it. In addition, there is still little confidence in a voluntary market for carbon sequestration. The system to record and monitor carbon sequestration is complicated and expensive.

Many thresholds

A study for the European Parliament states that there are still many barriers for farmers to engage in carbon farming, but that carbon farming can make a real contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This in addition to other benefits in the areas of biodiversity, soil health, water quality and the environment. Carbon farming must be sustainable and structural if it is to make a contribution.

Also read: How to make money from carbon soil sequestration?

Jan Braakman Parliamentary reporter
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