Agricultural accounts for 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union, according to the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan.

Speaking at the recent Agricultural Outlook Conference in Brussels, Commissioner Hogan said that measures under the reformed CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) will play a key role in reducing these emissions.

“We are all aware of the effects of climate change and the increasing acceptance that something really has to be done to address those effects.”

He added that the European Union is a leader in the area of climate action and it has committed to a target of reducing greenhouse emissions by 40% by 2030, which will be further discussed this week.

Agricultural emissions account for 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the EU.

“Let me be very clear – agriculture and forestry must make their fair contribution to delivering the EU’s ambitious pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

However, he added that farmers in the EU are already making progress as agricultural emissions have declined by 24% since 1990.

“Moreover, the farming sector is already contributing a growing share of the EU’s total output of renewable energy, with 10% provided in 2012, thus complementing the 47% provided from forestry.”

Commissioner Hogan also said that the CAP is playing a crucial role in combatting the effects of climate change.

This year, some €16.3 billion of the CAP budget will be climate-relevant, which includes the greening practices, ensuring, amongst others, the maintenance of permanent grassland in Europe as an important carbon sink.

“But this also covers funding under Rural Development to support farm modernisation to cut energy consumption, improve fertiliser use efficiency and further reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Furthermore, he said that over the full period of 2014 to 2020, it is expected that €2.7 billion will be invested in renewable energy production and a further €2.8 billion will be spent on energy efficiency.

The new CAP, which is applicable for the first time this year, has a distinct environmental approach as a result of the specific greening payment, he said.

According to Commissioner Hogan, this payment which accounts for 30% of the basic payments received by farmers acknowledges the environmental public goods they provide.

Indeed, farmers have made major efforts this year to make greening of the CAP work on the ground and I wholeheartedly applaud them for that.

“We are all well aware of the loss of natural habitat and reduced biodiversity and the impact that this is having on many species, not least in the reduced numbers of native bird species.”

To combat this loss, he added, that over €16 billion will be invested under the Rural Development Programmes to commit an area the size of Germany and Bulgaria into agri-environment-climate action contracts.