Copa and Cogeca welcome the European agri committee’s position on carbon

The apexes say the change would make farming part of the climate solution but campaigners like Friends of the Earth fear the plan could lead to ‘greenwashing’

Agri co-op apexes Copa and Cogeca have hailed new developments in the EU’s carbon removal policy, after a vote by the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (Agri) on Wednesday (30 August).

MEPs on the committee voted to adopt an opinion on a voluntary framework for carbon removal across Europe by 31 votes to six and two abstentions. The proposal includes activities linked to the monetisation and trading of carbon farming certificates, and suggests changing the definition of what qualifies as “carbon farming” to include not only “carbon removal activities” but also, farming emissions reduction activities.

Copa and Cogeca, which represent European farmers and agricultural co-ops, said the vote “sent a clear message from the Committee on Agriculture: carbon farming is part of the solution and farmers/foresters must be at the centre of this new model.”

The apexes say the proposal will reward additional environmental performances and ensure the continuity of existing carbon farming schemes “through a simplified process that does not generate unnecessary administrative burdens”.

Efforts by farmers and agri co-ops should be recognised to encourage the transition, they add.

“Copa and Cogeca welcome the recognition of the GHG emissions reductions within the scope, the measures put to prevent land grabbing (placing foresters and farmers in the centre of the system), the acknowledgement of the role of agri-co-operatives, as well as the clarification of a more adequate baseline for the characteristics of carbon farming,” said a statement from the apexes.

“The Committee on Environment, which has competence over this proposal, should take due consideration of this opinion ahead of its vote on 2 October 2023. We count on the members of the parliament’s support to ensure that the European agriculture and forestry sectors can be part of the solution to fight against climate change through storing carbon in soil and biomass.”

The Commission’s initial Communication on Sustainable Carbon Cycles”was met with scepticism by some NGOs and activists, with Carbon Market Watch warning that it “risks undermining the European Green Deal and the Climate Law as it would damage the environmental integrity of the EU’s climate targets.”

Friends of the Earth Europe said it was “alarmed by the proposals as they can easily become the next corporate greenwashing exercise allowing agribusiness to offset their emissions instead of reducing them”.

“Proposals focusing on carbon offsetting will not help combat climate change or the biodiversity crisis, neither will it help support rural areas and fair access to healthy food,” it added.

Agri, along with the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, will present its opinions on carbon removal to the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, which will adopt its own version of the proposal. If adopted, the Environment Committee’s report will be sent to the full parliament for a vote in October. 

The agricultural sector accounts for 10% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions.