Agriculture is a crucial piece in the puzzle of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The CAP can be turned into a powerful lever.

Picture of the conference audience

Transforming Farm Subsidies to Prevent Climate Breakdown

An Unavoidable Step after Paris: Cutting Emissions from Farming

From the community

Transforming Farm Subsidies to Prevent Climate Breakdown

by Asger Mindegaard, EEB

Should the biggest share of the EU budget, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), drive progressive climate action or rather support the status quo in European agriculture? This was the question asked by the European Environmental Bureau at a recent event in Brussels. While most agreed that we need higher climate ambition, consensus was harder to find regarding the pathway that will lead the agricultural sector towards net zero emissions in 2050.

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.

Picture of the conference audience

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

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?

Picture of panel in front of presentation

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 in front of presentation

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.
Panel in front of presentation

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.

Further information

Conference Page

Policy Brief

Policy Brief: Agriculture and Climate Change

Responsible for the content of this page is the named author / organisation:

The EEB and BirdLife Europe present solutions to reduce GHG emissions in the European faming sector in the context of the EU CAP.

Projekttag “Klimafreundliche Ernährung”

From the community

Projekttag “Klimafreundliche Ernährung”

by Katrin Pech, GS Beuthener Straße, Hannover

Am Dienstag, den 01.10.2019 fand der Klima-Tag zum Thema „Klimafreundliche Ernährung“ statt. Unsere Schule ist Teil des BEACON Projekts. Das ist ein europäisches Projekt und steht für „Bridging European and Local Cimate Action”. Dabei vernetzen sich europäische Schulen und tauschen sich über ihre Ideen zum Energiesparen und über Klimaschutz aus. Unsere beiden Partnerschulen liegen in Prachatice (Tschechien).

Am Klima-Tag wurden die Schülerinnen und Schüler in jahrgangsgemischte Gruppen eingeteilt und haben sich einen Tag lang mit einem Projektthema befasst. Die Themen waren sehr unterschiedlich.

Einige Gruppen haben Gerichte aus saisonalem und regionalem Gemüse und Obst hergestellt, wie z.B. Apfelmus, Kartoffelbrei oder Erbsensuppe. Das hat lecker geschmeckt und ist durch die kurzen Transportwege gut für das Klima. Andere Gruppen haben Stoffbeutel bemalt, damit sie beim Einkaufen keine Plastiktüten benutzen müssen. Eine Gruppe hat Beerensträucher auf dem Schulhof gepflanzt, damit sie nächstes Jahr im Sommer davon naschen können. Außerdem haben sich einige Gruppen mit dem Saisonkalender für Obst und Gemüse beschäftigt, damit man saisonaler einkaufen gehen kann. Und wiederum eine andere Gruppe hat sich mit der Verpackung von Lebensmitteln beschäftigt. Frisch aufgeschnittenes Obst schmeckt besser und macht auch keinen Plastikmüll, wie das klein geschnittene aus der Verpackung.

Insgesamt war es ein abwechslungsreicher und interessanter Klima-Tag, nach dem jeder mit neuen Ideen nach Hause ging.


Schulkinder lernen spielend die geographische Herkunft verschiedene Obst- und Gemüsesorten mit einer Weltkarte. © Katrin Pech GS Beuthener Straße, Hannover

English summary

On October 1st the Beuthener Straße Primary School in Hannover held a Climate Action Day on climate-friendly nutrition in the context of the BEACON project. During the event, the students were divided into groups of mixed grade level and spent a day working on different project themes. Some groups made dishes of seasonal and regional vegetables and fruits such as applesauce, mashed potatoes or pea soup. The dishes tasted great and are also good for the climate since the ingredients have short transport routes. Other groups painted fabric bags so they do not have to use plastic bags when grocery shopping with their families. After a varied and interesting Climate Action Day, the pupils went home with many new ideas for climate-friendly nutrition.

Further information

This article was originally posted on 02.10.2019 on the website of Grundschule Beuthener Straße here.

Unabhängiges Institut für Umweltfragen UfU e.V.


Responsible for the content of this page is Katrin Pech, GS Beuthener Straße, Hannover :

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We created the EUKI community for project implementers and partners to share information related to their work, like for example project events, best practice examples, lessons learned, or requests for collaboration on upcoming (EU) calls.

Vegetable display at farmers market in Piedimonte. You can see oranges, peppers, potatoes, artichokes and other vegetables and fruits.

Local Farmers’ Markets in Sicily

The EUKI project Frutti per la Biosfera organised farmers’ markets in Sicily to promote local and seasonal food with schoolchildren.

Tackling Energy Poverty

Andreea Vornicu researches on energy poverty at the Center for the Study of Democracy and presented results at the BEACON conference.

CO2-Neutral Vegetables from Sicilian School Gardens

School classes around Mount Etna opened the second phase of the project ‘Frutti per la Biosfera’ and planted vegetables in the school garden.

The brochure of the European Climate Initiative (EUKI) provides information on the objectives, working methods, funding opportunities and projects.

Project video: Boschi per la Biosfera in Sicily

Project video: Boschi per la Biosfera in Sicily

The “Boschi per la Biosfera – Forests for the Biosphere” project promoted environmental awareness among children in Sicily. 2,497 Sicilian schoolchildren planted 2,497 trees and were encouraged to support reforestation. The video shows the work of the European Climate Initiative (EUKI) project. The film was produced by the Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung and Giacche Verdi Bronte.

Boschi per la Biosfera – Forests for the Biosphere