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Transforming Farm Subsidies to Prevent Climate Breakdown

On 25 September 2019, the European Environmental Bureau and BirdLife Europe hosted a public conference in Brussels, on the potential of harnessing CAP support for climate change mitigation. A passionate audience filled the room and engaged in intense debates with the invited stakeholders and speakers, coming from Member States, the European Commission, the Parliament, environmental thinktanks, NGOs, academia and the farming sector.

Dr. Marco Springmann, Senior Researcher in Population Health at University of Oxford, provides insights into consumption side aspects of food systems and climate change. Photo: Asger Mindegaard/EEB

Further Information

Policy Brief

Agricultural emissions are projected to continue to increase in the coming years, despite the accumulating scientific evidence of the agricultural sector’s role in the environmental crisis we face. In the EU, we are at a turning point. In the wake of the green wave of the European elections, the debate on the future Common Agricultural Policy will continue in parallel to the negotiations on the future EU budget (2021-2027) and the finalisation of National Energy and Climate Plans. With massive climate mobilisation and the dawning awareness of the potential for climate change mitigation in agriculture, the stakes are high. Will the new CAP, and its nearly 40% of the EU budget, become a lever for climate action?

Panel debate on the agricultural commitments in the NECPs. From left: conference moderator Alberto Arroyo Schnell (IUCN), Bérénice Dupeux (EEB), Valeria Forlin (DG CLIMA) and Tobias Gräs (Danish Agriculture & Food Council). Photo: Asger Mindegaard/EEB

In his opening speech, Patrick Ten Brink, EU Policy Director of the EEB, emphasised the urgency of drastically changing the way food is produced and consumed in the EU. He highlighted solutions, such as a reduction of the number of farm animals, an EU-wide adoption of agroecological approaches, support for implementation of best practices on farms, protection and restoration of vulnerable and high value ecosystems and a diversification of the agricultural sector. Such solutions, he underlined, will have to be pursued at all levels of society, and both agricultural trade and policy are crucial levers for promoting them. These points are elaborated in a recent policy brief on agriculture and climate change from the EEB and BirdLife Europe.

Panel debate on the legitimacy of the future CAP budget within the EU budget. From left: conference moderator Alberto Arroyo Schnell (IUCN), Phil Wynn Owen (European Court of Auditors) and Raphael Weyland (NABU). Photo: Asger Mindegaard/EEB

The opening speech was followed by two researchers, who laid out the state of play in terms of the current CAP’s impact on the climate and linked it to consumption and health. This laid the foundation for several panel debates between the invited stakeholders, including rich contributions from the audience. Amongst the issues debated were:

  • the (lack of) emphasis on agriculture in the Member States’ National Climate & Energy Plans
  • the role of the CAP within the wider EU budget
  • the potential of the CAP as a tool to achieve the climate and environmental ambitions of the EU
  • greenhouse gas intensity versus total emissions (e.g. should we be satisfied with more efficient livestock production in terms of CO2 eq./unit or also talk about herd size)
  • and the polemic question of whether the EU should actively seek to influence diets.
Session on the CAP and climate from the EU institutions perspective. From left: Mauro Pionelli (DG AGRI), John Muldowney (Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland) and Irène Toelleret (Renew Europe group, MEP substitute in agri and winemaker). Photo: Célia Nyssens/EEB

The conference was a part of the EUKI-supported project An Unavoidable Step After Paris: Cutting Emissions from Farming, which is led by the EEB in collaboration with BirdLife Europe and five national environmental NGOs: France Nature et Environnement, GermanWatch, Birdwatch Ireland, the Instituto Internacional de Derecho y Medio Ambiente (IIDMA), and CEEweb for Biodiversity. The project aims to identify good farming practices from a climate and environmental perspective and analyse their potential in a European context.

The project is a part of EUKI’s overarching ambition of inter-European dialogue, sharing of good practices and awareness raising for climate action. The project will be concluded in February 2020 and the farming practices for climate change mitigation will be communicated online. For more information about the project, feel free to contact the EEB.

Hungarian EUKI Community Conference 5 & 6 October 2022

Organised by the EUKI Academy and CEEweb, the Hungarian EUKI Community Conference will present a unique chance for all Hungarian EUKI projects to network and learn from each other. Next to sharing experiences and good practices, this event contributes to a more continuous flow of information between the EUKI projects. Together we want to develop/build a steady approach to European and national climate policy issues and challenges. This shall also help to increase the effectiveness of the individual EUKI projects.

Participants will have the opportunity to discuss current and future challenges to the Hungarian green transition with Hungarian and German representatives. The EUKI project’s lessons learned, success factors and common challenges will be compiled and exchanged. A Climate Action Simulation and a “walk-shop” around Budapest round up the programme. The organisers CEEweb and EUKI Academy are looking forward to your participation.

See the preliminary programme below (still subject to alterations):

Day 1

9:30 – 10:00       Registration & Welcome Coffee

10:00 – 10:15     Welcome by

  • Ulrike Leis, Deputy Director of the European Climate Initiative (EUKI)
  • Julia Gross, German Ambassador to Hungary

10:15 – 11:45     Panel discussion: Current chances and opportunities for the Hungarian green transition

                           Moderator: Peter Olajos, President of CEEweb

                           This event will be streamed via the EUKI Academy.

  • Noémi Dálnoky, Hungarian Ministry of Regional Development and Utilization of EU Funds
  • Matthias Casper, Counsellor of European Climate Policy, German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK)
  • Barbara Kovács, Head of the Department for Climate Policy, Hungarian Ministry of Technology and Innovation (TIM)
  • László Szabó, Director, REKK Foundation for Regional Policy Co-operation in Energy and Infrastructure (REKK Foundation)

11:45 – 12:15     Coffee Break

12:15 – 13:45     “ConversTations”, Moderator: Csaba Mezei, General Secretary of CEEweb

Introduction of all Hungarian EUKI projects in a gamified manner

13:45 – 15:00Lunch

15:00 – 17:30     Climate Action Simulation with En-ROADS Climate Policy Simulator

                          Moderated group exercise of interactive climate policy simulation. Commitment is needed by participants to engage for the whole duration of the session.


  • Viktor Jósa, CliMates

18:00 – 20:30     Gala Dinner

Day 2

9:30 – 10:00       Registration & Welcome Coffee

10:00 – 10:15     Welcome and introduction by Aleksandra Khirv, Project Lead CEEweb

10:15 – 11:45     EUKI projects exchange I, Moderator: Aleksandra Khirv, CEEweb

                           Each project shares lessons learned, success factors and challenges before running a quick Q&A session.

  • “From advocacy to implementation. How EUKI projects helped community energy in Hungary”:
    Ágnes-Szalkai Lőrincz and Bence Kovács,
  • “Breaking barriers to low-carbon investment in Budapest”: Ada Ámon, Head of Department for Climate and Environmental Affairs, Municipality of Budapest
  • Making the carbon taxing FAIR”: Anna Bajomi, Habitat for Humanity Hungary

11:45 – 12:15     Coffee Break

12:15 – 13:45     EUKI projects exchange II, Moderator: Aleksandra Khirv, CEEweb

                           Each project shares lessons learned, success factors and challenges before running a quick Q&A session.

  • “Complexity of the biomass energy – lessons learnt”: Adam Harmat, WWF Hungary
  • “How to predict CO2 emissions from transport – TEDiT tool “: Ágoston Princz, CAAG
  • “Consolidating Ambitious Climate Targets with End-Use Sufficiency (CACTUS)”: Mária Bartek-Lesi, REKK

13:45 – 15:00Lunch

15:00 – 16:30     ”Walk-shop” around Budapest, Moderation: Katalin Tarr, CAAG

                            Guided field visit around Budapest city center with the visit of “good and bad practices” of EU funding allocation in Hungary.

18:00 – 20:30     Dinner

Download the Agenda here

The Three4Climate Campus series has taken off

Spotlight: Sustainable mobility

The series was kicked off in October with the first meeting of municipal representatives and an impressive presentation by Olaf Lewald, Head of the Office for Mobility and Commissioner of European Affairs from Bielefeld. He highlighted the city’s ambitious target to reduce motorised private traffic in its city center from 50 to 25 percent by 2030. One major step to get there is the reconstruction of the Jahnplatz, Bielefeld’s biggest transport hub at the very center of the city. Concrete measures that this large-scale project envisages include the reduction of two car lanes to one for cars and one for busses and bicycles only, and a reduced speed limit from 50 to 30 km/h. A testing phase of almost two years already shows great results: the number of cars passing Jahnplatz could be reduced from 25.000 to 15.000 per day. Similarly, a significant reduction in air pollution is expected.

Equally as important as concrete measures is to get people on board, as emphasized by Olaf Lewald. The reconstruction that started in August 2020 was preceded by a campaign for public acceptance. In addition to consultations with neighbors, local shop owners and other stakeholders, a website (Jahnplatz bewegt) invites citizens to closely follow the process of reconstruction and voice potential concerns.

Using an innovative role play method, the participants of the meeting from Loulé, Braga, Maribor and Kranj kept Olaf Lewald on his toes with questions from the perspectives of irritated citizens, local activist groups and critical journalists. Bielefeld’s actions for sustainable mobility left a big impression and made participants curious for more.

The representatives from the municipalities in Bielefeld, Braga, Loulé, Maribor and Kranj and the Three4Climate team exchanging on sustainable mobility at the 1st edition of the Three4Climate Campus meetings for cities. Photo: Three4Climate

Spotlight: Energy management

From sustainable mobility to successful energy management: The second edition of the T4C Campus series for cities put the spotlight on Maribor’s 15 years of experience with energy management. Vlasta Krmelj, director of the Energy agency of Podravje (Energap) and Gordana Kolesarič (Municipality of Maribor) presented Maribor’s path from having no energy concept before 2006, to completing one of Slovenia’s biggest renovation projects in 2019: Before the local energy agency and the municipality of Maribor initiated the energy management program, there was no robust information on the energy demand of public buildings, no priorities for investments in renovation measures, and high energy costs in all areas. But by introducing the program, they managed to involve all relevant stakeholders step-by-step, achieved a political commitment and finally reduced CO2-emissions via pilot projects: recently the renovation of 24 public buildings was successfully completed thanks to a public private partnership approach. According to the lessons learnt that were shared during the meeting, most important is to create trust and friendship with all stakeholders to realise fruitful partnerships. Gordana Kolesarič, Senior Adviser at the Municipality of Maribor, emphasised the central role of institutions such as ENERGAP as a main driving force for successfully introducing energy management in Maribor.

At the 2nd edition of the Three4Climate Campus meetings for cities, the spotlight was on Maribor’s approach to energy management. The speakers encouraged participants to share their experiences. Photo: Three4Climate

Three4Climate Campus for schools

On November 5th, it was the Three4Climate schools’ turn: Teachers from all six schools came together virtually to exchange perspectives on the European Green Deal and what it means for climate action at the local level. The different topics of the Green Deal were presented to the teachers. As a result, participants specified which of them are most suited for detailed discussion with their students. A ranking by participants showed that clean energy, sustainable mobility and zero-pollution have the highest potential.

Teachers from all Three4Climate schools participated in the first edition of the Three4Climate Campus meetings for schools. Photo: Three4Climate

Next up is a virtual conference that will give students from all three trio countries the opportunity to exchange with Svenja Schulze, the German Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

The Three4Climate Campus series will run from October until February of 2021.

A success story: ‘’Schools Open to Climate Protection and Energy Savings in Athens – Berlin’’

The project lasted from October 2017 to January 2020 and aimed to the complicity of the school community in climate protection, reduction of the energy footprint of school buildings, raising students/teachers/parents awareness and knowledge in the subject of energy savings and climate protection.

This project used the existing experience as it emerges from environmental educational programs both in Greece and Germany. It also propelled a more comprehensive approach which is the basis for future continuation and expansion of the project in schools.

Institutions with various experiences and roles, from the two countries, collaborated in the project, adding their own know-how: The Municipality of Athens as coordinator, the social cooperative enterprise “Anemos Ananeosis /Wind of Renewal”, the German “Independent Institute for Environmental Issues / Unabhängiges Institut fur Umweltfragen’’ (UFU) and the German Citizen’s initiative “Respect for Greece”.

“Climate Schools Ath.Be” project methodology – educational guide is integrated and includes collaboration between different partners in a more coherent way, training of trainers and exchange of good practices, collaboration between Greek and German experts for the production of an educational material and a methodology based on different experiences in both countries, training of the researchers and practical use of the tools (material, tool-box with appliances, assistance to the teachers etc).

Greek and German trainers, who already had significant experience from similar projects, trained 20 experts and these trainers then trained 240 teachers, of whom 197 took an active role in their school. In total 72 primary, secondary and high schools in Athens, mainly, have supported their students in this program and posted the necessary ‘’testimonies’’ on the digital platform “moodle” which is accessible to all members of the educational community who want to implement similar actions in the future.

The students were informed, sensitized and turned into active researchers, surprising all the participants for their commitment and interest. The students, teachers and school units participated in a relevant research that evaluated the implementation and catered, with good practices and suggestions, the project’s final Action Plan for interventions in the school.

The project was a useful tool for intercultural education and inclusion of all the pupils, Greeks and the ones with migrant and refugee background, offering different roles and tasks to all of them based on their interest, skills and capacities, enhance the community building approach. Some students with learning difficulties or of different cultural background (eg refugees) were attracted by the special equipment and they showed great interest to participate more and take responsibilities (i.e become “responsible” to teach the rest of the class on the use of the instruments) or/and be active member of the team (intercultural dimension).

Students that participate on the project become ambassadors at their school for climate protection and climate action and they aware other students, their parents, the neighborhood.

You find the full article, lessons learned and tools for further action from the project here.

Reinforcing the European Youth Employment Policy with the European Green Deal

It is urgent and necessary to act immediately on European level and in the member states against this. The already existing European Youth Guarantee has to be amplified, in order to develop an ambitious policy favouring youth qualification and employment. We propose to prepare young people for tasks and professions that are necessary for a sustainable and environmentally compatible future. The best and most convincing way to do this, will be programmes to train young people for jobs and activities that are in line with the European Green Deal.

(Not only) Europe needs urgently qualified women and men to realize the numerous tasks which are required for energy transition, for a climate-friendly mobility and climate-adaptation, for an environmental-friendly agriculture, forestry and for nature protection in general. It is absurd and unacceptable to swallow massive unemployment and social exclusion of young Europeans; if looking ahead, the EU and all member states should offer large opportunities to train them for participation in the imminent task of a European Green Deal and in a green recovery of their home-regions.

In our proposal we have

• elaborated our ideas for educational programs in technical “Green Skills” similar to offers in the German “dual system”, but focusing competence development and training in creativity , entrepreneurship and cooperative working.

• given particular attention on how to involve young Europeans (and refugees) without any work and professional qualification.

Because just these men and in particular women are suffering more and more seriously unemployment and social exclusion.
The proposal we have sent to the Commission should support the process of preparing new directives for youth employment. We have translated it in Greek and Spanish, the languages of the countries were the YES-clima project is implemented. We hope to initiate more and profound discussions and activities on how to involve the youth in the Green Deal and for their own sustainable future.

Read the full version of the proposal in: