Achieving carbon neutrality tops the list of the new European Commissioner's top priorities.

The European Union has pre­pared a pack­age of new cli­mate and envi­ron­men­tal poli­cies and rules, which could be imple­mented in the con­text of the European Green Deal ini­tia­tive if the plans pass muster.

The pack­age of envi­ron­men­tally friendly reforms is sched­uled to be pre­sented to the pub­lic by the new pres­i­dent of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on December 11.

Olive grow­ers can help by iden­ti­fy­ing the farm­ing prac­tices they can improve to pre­vent soil ero­sion and overuse of water; offer more refuges and har­vest safely for wildlife; reduce the use of agro­chem­i­cals, or store more car­bon in soils.- Jabier Ruiz, Senior Policy Officer, Agriculture and Food, from the WWF European Policy Office

According to an early draft pro­posal of the new poli­cies, the first and most impor­tant objec­tive of the new strat­egy is to achieve “cli­mate neu­tral­ity” no later than 2050. This trans­lates to zero green­house gas emis­sions from the E.U. mem­ber states by that year, which mainly con­cerns gases emit­ted by burn­ing fos­sil fuels.

Climate neu­tral­ity means that all car­bon emis­sions should be coun­ter­bal­anced by car­bon seques­tra­tion, which is the process of remov­ing and stor­ing car­bon diox­ide from the atmos­phere.

See more: Sustainability News

The cap-​and-​trade sys­tem that allows sell­ing and buy­ing of indus­trial gas emis­sions within the Union mem­ber states (plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) will also be extended to include the mar­itime sec­tor.

In advance, Brussels will eval­u­ate the pos­si­bil­ity of adding the road trans­port emis­sions to the trad­ing sys­tem, an inten­tion dis­missed by envi­ron­men­tal­ists, many of whom say that the exten­sion of the mea­sure will allow car mak­ers to reduce their effort and costs in pro­duc­ing more environmentally-​friendly vehi­cles.

As far as the agri­cul­tural sec­tor is con­cerned, the E.U. intends to adopt “a tool­box for alter­na­tives to pes­ti­cides” and improve the exist­ing rules of food data and label­ing to bet­ter inform con­sumers.

Jabier Ruiz, Senior Policy Officer, Agriculture and Food, from the World Wildlife Foundation’s European Policy Office, told Olive Oil Times that the E.U.‘s Green Deal could lead to more sus­tain­abil­ity in the food sec­tor of Europe.

“In terms of agri­cul­ture, we look to the European Green Deal to help a tran­si­tion to sus­tain­able food sys­tems in the E.U., for exam­ple, by propos­ing a long-​term strat­egy to guide the way,” Ruiz said.

He also pin­pointed the impor­tant role olive farm­ers could play in the new scheme through their feed­back in cru­cial parts of their job, and he acknowl­edged the need to reward their efforts and con­tri­bu­tions.

“Olive grow­ers can help by iden­ti­fy­ing the farm­ing prac­tices they can improve to pre­vent soil ero­sion and overuse of water; offer more refuges and har­vest safely for wildlife; reduce the use of agro­chem­i­cals, or store more car­bon in soils,” he said. “Public poli­cies must be used to reward farm­ers that go the extra-​mile.”

The pack­age also includes a new motto for the envi­ron­ment, called “a green oath: do no harm,” aim­ing to elim­i­nate “inco­her­ent leg­is­la­tion that reduces the effec­tive­ness in deliv­er­ing the Green Deal.”

However, not all the E.U. mem­ber states have accepted the new cli­mate strat­egy lying down.

Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic have opposed the plan by claim­ing that the 2050 zero-​emission objec­tive will irrepara­bly harm their economies due to their extended depen­dency on fos­sil fuels.

By con­trast, a group of 10 mem­ber states, includ­ing coun­tries such as France, Denmark, Sweden and Spain, have asked the European Commission for a “clear direc­tion” toward a net-​zero emis­sions tar­get.

A sum­mit of E.U. mem­ber state lead­ers is set for December 12 and 13 in Brussels, where the new cli­mate and envi­ron­men­tal poli­cies will be dis­cussed. A unan­i­mous agree­ment is required from the lead­ers in order for the new poli­cies and rules to be for­mal­ized within the E.U.




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