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Gearing up for a decade of climate action

Published: 21/10/2021

As part of our #FoodFuture project we’re asking how we can deliver truly sustainable food systems. We’re listening to farmers, consumers, policymakers, businesses, NGOs, academics and others. By listening and working together, we will create a better future. This month we’re looking at climate action and we spoke to Klaus Röhrig from NGO CAN Europe for the full picture. of European climate legislation.

Almost two years ago, the European Parliament declared a state of climate and environmental emergency. A lot has happened since: record breaking temperatures, extreme and devastating weather events across Europe and the globe and urgent calls from leading scientists and global leaders for increased climate action.

Ahead of the Glasgow Climate Summit, the pledges of major economies, including the EU, remain insufficient to put the world on track with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C, a key objective of the Paris Agreement. At the same time, we have seen some positive steps in Europe: the EU has adopted a target of reaching climate-neutrality by 2030, it has increased its 2030 climate target to at least -55% net emissions and just this summer the European Commission has put forward proposals for a comprehensive overhaul of the EU’s energy and climate policy framework.

Yet, the EU can do more. The current legislative revisions offer a critical and unique opportunity for the EU to walk the talk and align its policies with international commitments. The recent initiatives are an important step forward, but more is necessary given the EU’s responsibility as a major historic emitter and its capacity to act.

The revisions of the EU’s climate and energy framework should therefore enable the EU to achieve at least -65% emissions, compared to 1990 levels, by 2030 and become climate-neutral by 2040. This will require all Member States and all economic sectors to contribute. It is a challenging and unprecedented task, but it is possible and can help avert the most severe impacts of worsening climate change which will inevitably be hardest felt by the most vulnerable. The NGO-led Paris Agreement Compatible (PAC) energy scenario and the recent Climate Analytics 1.5°C pathway scenarios underline the feasibility of immediate and ambitious policy change.

This is also an important moment to take stock of the potential for the European food and drink industry to move towards climate neutrality. In addition to the emission cuts driven by strengthening the EU’s climate and energy legislation, it will be crucial to substantially accelerate circularity and more sustainable consumption and production patterns, inter alia through the Circular Economy package.

In order to address EU consumption-induced deforestation or environmental degradation across the world and better account for imported and exported carbon stricter links between the EU’s agricultural and food related policies and the objectives of the European Green Deal need to be applied alongside better streamlined Paris Agreement consistency into EU trade and external policy.