From 6 to 8 February 2022, Julien Denormandie, presiding over the Council meeting of ministers responsible for agriculture, brought together his European counterparts to discuss climate-friendly agriculture and forestry models.
The European Union has set itself the ambitious target of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. The agriculture sector has a key role to play in meeting this target, involving low-carbon agriculture.
While the agricultural transition must contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, this sector also offers an excellent opportunity due to agricultural land’s capacity to store carbon.
Throughout the day on 7 February, the European ministers responsible for agriculture were able to see first-hand the practices used by farmers and the structures helping them implement low-carbon systems. For example, France’s proposed approach makes use of two tools: a carbon diagnosis scheme and the low-carbon label. This helped paint a clear picture of the changes to agricultural models required at farm level and the need to support farmers in these transitions. Developing markets based on carbon credits can offer the opportunity to reap the full economic benefits of these practices, which help combat climate change.
At the working meeting on 8 February, participants were able to achieve a political consensus at European level concerning the role of farmers and forestry professionals in the fight against climate change.
The ministers shared their experience regarding climate-friendly agricultural practices, such as planting hedgerows and ground cover, diversifying and rotating crops while integrating pulses, and implementing agroforestry and sustainable grassland management, which are associated with many environmental benefits. They also focused on specific systems such as wetlands and peatlands. They underscored the need to align these practices with agriculture’s primary goal of feeding the population. The participants also shared initiatives already in place in certain Member States and identified the conditions needed to expand these efforts.
In addition to the mobilisation of public funding and in particular the CAP, a common certification framework at European level emerged as a promising avenue, provided that it reconciles robust science, ease of implementation and sufficient financial incentive. The ministers also highlighted the importance of research and experimentation, and mobilising agricultural training and advice networks to share knowledge and best practices.
For Julien Denormandie, “the goal is to create political momentum for a framework at European level that is conducive to the development and acceleration of soil carbon sequestration. I hope that the French Presidency can help provide the necessary impetus to reconcile environmental value and economic value.”