The agricultural sector will lose productivity and competitiveness if urgent action against climate change is not taken

The International Institute of Law and the Environment (IIDMA) has organised a conference in Madrid on the options for the agricultural sector to combat climate change, as part of the European Project EUKI “Reducing emissions from the agricultural sector, an unavoidable action following the Paris Agreement”. Different specialists and professionals from the sector presented and debated the most appropriate measures for mitigating climate change and the obstacles to putting them into practice. The agricultural sector is the third sector with the highest equivalent CO2 emissions in Spain, with 10.6% of the total according to data from 2016, but also one of its main affected. At the same time, it is a key sector for adopting solutions to this problem.

The impact of climate change on the agricultural sector is already far-reaching: rainfall, the availability of water for irrigation or changes in crop yields make Spain very vulnerable. During the day the specialists warned that, if urgent measures are not taken, the loss of productivity and competitiveness will be irreversible.

As for the main obstacles, costs and bureaucracy were highlighted. The need to evaluate the collateral effects of measures such as the intensification of livestock or agriculture, or changes in production because they can be counterproductive, was stressed. There is consensus, however, on the need for greater political and institutional commitment and funding to implement best practices.

For this, work from the legal point of view is fundamental. A large part of the urgent actions must focus on boosting the political ambition of the national climate and energy plans and the future CAP. Therefore, the development of the project will analyse how climate change mitigation in the agricultural and livestock sector is foreseen in both national policies and the CAP.

Another pillar of the programme would be the promotion of knowledge-based solutions, i.e. R&D&I and the implementation of new science-based solutions. In this sense, it is foreseen the creation of a database gathering results from different experiences and based on scientific evidence on the real mitigation potential of the sector. During the event, solutions such as a conservation agriculture model or new systems for manure management were presented, solutions that would mitigate GHG (Greenhouse Gases) emissions.

“The EUKI Project is fundamental for the future of the agricultural sector in Europe, as it is based on scientific data and analysis, and on cooperation between professionals from different countries. We can no longer rely on the same current production models, because the impact of climate change is altering circumstances and directly affecting our future as a country, which is especially vulnerable. The Spanish agricultural sector stands out at an international level, but if we don’t provide solutions, the damage to the sector will be irreversible” affirms Massimiliano Patierno, IIDMA environmental engineer and coordinator of the project in Spain.

EUKI Project

The conference is part of the EUKI Project, a European-level project promoted by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) that will run until February 2020. The participating countries are Germany, France, Ireland, Spain and Hungary. This project seeks to promote cooperation between different countries of the European Union to adopt and disseminate best practices among professionals in the sector in terms of climate change mitigation, and create multidisciplinary networks. To this end, workshops, political analysis and communication will be developed to disseminate the project and raise awareness of the sector and public opinion.

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