Co-ops respond to the European Parliament’s negotiating mandate on climate law

Agriculture and renewable energy co-ops shared their view on the proposed target

On 8 October the European Parliament voted to reduce CO2 emissions in all member states by 60% by 2030.

MEPs adopted a report by MEP Jytte Guteland, which sets out the Parliament’s negotiating mandate on the EU Climate Law. Commitments include each member state becoming carbon neutral by 2050 and setting up a EU Climate Change Council (ECCC) as an independent scientific body to assess whether policy is consistent and to monitor progress.

The EU’s current emissions reductions target for 2030 is 40% compared to 1990. The Commission had proposed a 55% target but MEPs have now raised the bar to 60%. They say the EU and member states must also phase out all direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies by 31 December 2025 at the latest, and highlight the need to continue efforts to combat energy poverty.

After the vote, Parliament rapporteur Jytte Guteland (S&D, Sweden) said: “The adoption of the report sends a clear message to the Commission and the Council, in light of the upcoming negotiations. We expect all member states to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest and we need strong interim targets in 2030 and 2040 for the EU to achieve this.

“I’m also satisfied with the inclusion of a greenhouse gas budget, which sets out the total remaining quantity of emissions that can be emitted until 2050, without putting at risk the EU’s commitments under the Paris Agreement.”

Co-operatives in agriculture and renewable energy were quick to respond to the vote. Copa-Cogeca, the voice of European farmers and agri co-ops, welcomed the Parliament’s support for establishing a carbon-crediting scheme for farming, and the intention to boost agricultural lands’ carbon sequestration potential and increase agricultural incomes via a market-based approach.

The apex body claims that EU agriculture has increased its overall productivity by 25% since 1990 while reducing its GHG emissions by 20% over the same time period. But it says farmere are directly impacted by climate change, and “know that more needs to be done to enhance adaption and foster mitigation”.

Copa-Cogeca adds that stronger political support and relevant financial instruments are needed to tackle these challenges.

Pekka Pesonen, the secretary general of Copa-Cogeca, said: “The adaption in plenary of this amendment is an exceptional opportunity for European farming to harness the carbon sequestration-potential of agricultural lands. It will provide farmers with a vital additional market-based income and it will give perspectives for our young farmers. Farming’s first strategic role is to produce food and ensure food security, which is more and more challenging in the face of weather extremes by the changing climate.

“The support for carbon farming in the proposed EU Climate Law shows the political commitment on European level to create synergies between food production and climate change mitigation and encourage our global partners to follow precedent. The chosen environmental approach behind the establishment of the carbon-crediting scheme is pragmatic and concrete, we need more tools of this kind.”

Copa-Cogeca also calls for the involvement of farmers and other agricultural stakeholders in EU-wide applied research focusing on precision farming to preserve soils. With regards to the greenhouse gas reduction target for 2030, Copa-Cogeca calls for a net target where reductions include greenhouse gas removals as well.

REScoop, the European federation of renewable energy co-operatives, has also responded to the parliament’s vote. The federation is a member of the Coalition for Higher Ambition on the EU 2030 Climate Target.

In a letter to the European Parliament, Commission, Council and heads of state, the Coalition asks all stakeholders to support “the highest level of ambition possible”.

“This should be at least -55%, while some members of the Coalition, similar to some members of the European Parliament, are calling for an emission reduction of at least -65%. This should be achieved by strong emission reductions and supported by additional decisive action to remove emissions through Nature Based Solutions in line with the need to protect Europe’s biodiversity,” reads the letter.

A total of 392 MEPs voted in favour of report, with 161 against and 142 abstentions. The European Parliament will start negotiations with member states and the Commission once the European Council has agreed upon a common position by qualified majority. An agreement could be reached by the end of the year.

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