A European Commission plan that would see farmers and landowners rewarded for playing their part in decarbonising the atmosphere has been welcomed by Copa Cogeca.

A Communication on Sustainable Carbon Cycles – adopted and published today (Wednesday, December 15) by the commission – sets out how the EU can increase removals of carbon from the atmosphere.

The representative body for farmers in Europe has welcomed the inclusion of carbon farming in the political agenda and future developments to capitalise on agriculture’s potential to fight climate change, it said.

While it acknowledged the great opportunity for farmers this presented, it stated that a market approach must be promoted and remaining uncertainties must be resolved, such as how to establish a carbon credit, the timing of payments, and where to market carbon credits.

Copa and Cogeca said it appreciated the commission’s recognition that carbon farming is very site-dependent in application and that there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach.

“The communication identifies challenges farmers will face when implementing carbon farming practices such as financial burdens (including uncertainty about revenues and up-front costs of implementation), insufficient tailored advisory services and access to knowledge, regulatory obstacles, high complexity and costs of robust monitoring, revising, and a verification system.

“It also provides effective examples of improved land-management practices that result in an increase of carbon sequestration,” Copa Cogeca said in a statement.

However, it said it regretted that the use of organic fertilisers is not included in the communication since it is a very beneficial practice in terms of carbon capture, biodiversity, and water and soil benefits.

Copa president, Christiane Lambert said:

“The agricultural sector has been undertaking efforts and deploying investments towards carbon-farming practices which precede today’s Commission communication.

“These efforts must be recognised, and future investments should be promoted. In addition, we consider it important to give flexibility on financing and to promote mainly private schemes in which farmers are actively involved.”

“A market-based approach is key, allowing that carbon credits become an additional income for farmers.

“The communication does not clarify how, and which sector shall be accredited for carbon removals through carbon farming.

“Measures should be put in place to avoid trade-off from companies and/or the industrial sector, that could acquire these credits, instead of a combined package of efforts to reduce emissions and compensation through removals,” she said.