People establish farms for all sorts of reasons. Perhaps it’s their lifelong dream or maybe they have an innovative idea that puts a twist on an old concept.
The key is to be realistic. Unless you’re very wealthy, it will take time to get off the ground and to become profitable.
The European Parliament’s agriculture committee proposed to go beyond the scope of the new EU framework for certifying carbon sinks in farming by providing for the remuneration and trading of negative emission certificates.
During its first meeting after the summer break on Wednesday (30 August), the committee adopted its opinion on the European Commission’s proposal for an EU-wide framework for carbon removals – that is, the sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere through technical solutions, but also nature-based ones such as the storage in trees or soils.
The lawmaker leading on the file within the agriculture committee, Czech liberal MEP Martin Hlaváček, welcomed the “broad majority” that voted in favour of his draft.
“The vote confirmed that in order to secure voluntary uptake of carbon farming practices by a significant amount of farmers in the future and maximise their potential to generate carbon removals requires tailor-made approach for farming and forestry,” he told EURACTIV.
The Commission’s proposal, presented in November last year, sets out EU-wide standards for certifying carbon removals, including in farming, but remained silent on whether these certificates should be traded on carbon markets or otherwise remunerated.
For the agriculture lawmakers, this does not seem to be enough: in their opinion, they propose several tweaks to the text that stress the monetisation and trading of carbon farming certificates.
While the Commission’s original text bets on the “incentive effect of the certification” of carbon sinks, the committee’s version adds that incentives should also come through the “monetisation” of such certificates.
Apart from quality criteria for carbon removals and rules for their verification and recognition, the scope of the legislation should also include “transition rules for the end use of certified units,” according to the committee.
Funding from carbon markets?
Specifically, the lawmakers propose that “until the entry into force of EU-wide rules on green claims,” farms should be able to use the certificates “for voluntary climate claims” as long as this does not interfere with achieving greenhouse gas emission targets.
The Green Claims Directive, proposed by the European Commission in March this year, proposes rules to make sure companies’ claims, including carbon neutrality, are substantiated and are currently being debated by the Parliament and EU countries.
Whether and how negative emission certificates from carbon farming should be traded on public or voluntary carbon markets is among the most hotly debated questions concerning the Commission’s proposal.
While farmers’ representatives and some lawmakers have stressed the importance of making carbon farming an additional source of income for farmers, Green campaigners have stressed incentives should come from public funding rather than carbon markets, arguing the latter would come with a risk of other companies greenwashing their carbon footprint.
What counts as carbon farming?
Meanwhile, the agriculture committee’s opinion also proposes to widen the definition of what qualifies as carbon farming to include not only “carbon removal activities,” but also a simple reduction of farming emissions.
It also proposes to loosen the definition of “permanent carbon storage”: while the original proposal requires a carbon sink to last for “several centuries” in order to be qualified as permanent, the committee’s opinion speaks of a “significant period of time.”
The idea that the definition of carbon farming could include emission reduction has been slammed as “deceiving” by environmentalists, who have also warned that the permanence of carbon sinks in the soil must be ensured.
The agriculture committee’s opinion is the first appraisal of the Commission’s proposal from the European Parliament. However, the leading committee on the matter is the environment one (ENVI), which is yet to adopt its version of the text.
AGRI’s Hlaváček, meanwhile, stressed he will now “focus on dialogue with ENVI Committee colleagues to have the best possible outcome in their upcoming report too.”
[Edited by Gerardo Fortuna/Alice Taylor]
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