Trilogues begin on the Certification Framework for Carbon Removals Regulation

The Commission put forward its legislative proposal for a Certification Framework for Carbon Removals (CFCR) in November 2022. The Regulation has the two broad objectives to define quality criteria for carbon removal activities to ensure only high-quality removals are certified, and to define rules for the verification and certification of carbon removals, including rules for the functioning and recognition by the Commission of certification schemes. The main innovation in the Regulation is that it defines Certified Removal Units (CRUs) that can be used in national or corporate GHG inventories or exchanged through voluntary carbon markets.

In a previous post last September, I discussed the amendments to the Commission’s proposal being discussed by the Council and European Parliament at that time.… Read the rest

Europe’s future of food – articulating food security, sovereignty and sustainability

I was pleased to be invited to give a talk at the EIT Food conference on the future of food last Thursday where the organisers had given me the very ambitious title at the head of this post. I reproduce below the talk as I presented it, with one small modification. The great advantage of attending a conference of this kind is that one is alerted to new perspectives and new angles and, in the light of listening to some of the other excellent contributions to the conference, I slightly nuanced one of my conclusions below (I note the specific change at the end of this post).… Read the rest

How to advance the green transition in the next CAP post 2027

Even though the latest changes in the CAP regulations only came into force on 1 January this year, attention is already beginning to focus on potential further changes to the CAP after the end of the current programming period 2023-2027. The Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski started the ball rolling back in June. In his contribution to the European Parliament debate on the Mortler Report on ensuring food security and long-term resilience of EU agriculture which, inter alia, called on the Commission to present a holistic plan to ensure food security for the EU, he commented:

I am in full agreement with this.Read the rest

Carbon removal certification and carbon farming

The concept of ‘net zero’ greenhouse gas emissions enshrined as the EU target in the European Climate Law implies that there will continue to be ‘unavoidable’ emissions in 2050 which will need to be offset by carbon removals from the atmosphere. For example, it is not possible for primary agriculture to reduce its gross emissions to zero and in a net zero world these will have to be offset by carbon removals. Furthermore, the Law sets the aim of negative emissions after 2050. While the IPCC recognises that carbon removals will be necessary to meet the Paris Agreement targets, there is still debate around how to define ‘unavoidable’ emissions and how large carbon removals will need to be by mid-century.… Read the rest

Food prices stabilising but yet to fall

I wrote a blog post in March this year “Food price inflation gathers pace” which used inflation data up to February. I concluded that post by noting that “the explanation for the continuing rise in food price inflation is mostly likely down to the lags in transmitting price changes through the food price chain. Food price increases in the past year, though very high, have not fully reflected the increases in prices at primary producer level. As food manufacturers and retailers continue to adjust their prices to these higher input costs, food price inflation is likely to continue at a high level”.… Read the rest

What can we learn from New Zealand’s experience in introducing a scheme to price agricultural emissions?

The European Union is pondering the possible introduction of a pricing scheme for agricultural emissions as a way to accelerate the reduction in agricultural emissions on the way to net zero emissions by 2050. In the wake of criticism from the European Court of Auditors in its 2021 report on the climate performance of the CAP, and in light of the Court’s recommendation that the Commission should “assess the potential to apply the polluter-pays principle to emissions from agricultural activities, and reward farmers for long-term carbon removals”, the Commission has commissioned an exploratory study on pricing agricultural emissions and rewarding climate action in the land sector.… Read the rest

How might the political composition of the European Parliament change in the 2024 elections?

This post first appeared on LinkedIn on June 11, 2023 and is reproduced here without amendment. Since that date there have been national parliamentary elections in Greece and Spain which in many respects confirm the analysis presented here. Furthermore, it is now agreed to increase the number of seats in the European Parliament by 15, with additional seats going to France, Spain and the Netherlands (2 each) and 1 additional seat to Austria, Belgium, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Latvia, Ireland and Denmark.

A couple of weeks ago the Council of the EU confirmed that the next elections to the European Parliament (EP) will take place from 6 to 9 June 2024.… Read the rest

Food price inflation gathers pace

Overall inflation in the EU shows some tentative signs of moderating in the latest figures for the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) from Eurostat for February 2023. From a peak annual rate of inflation of 11.5% in October 2022, the annual rate fell to 9.9% in February 2023. This is entirely due to a fall in energy costs which also reached their peak in October 2022. Food price inflation, however, continues unabated and increased further in February 2023 to an unheard-of annual rate in recent decades of 19.1%. Unfortunately, this high rate of food price inflation looks set to continue for a further period.… Read the rest

The changing distribution of CAP direct payments over time

The distribution of CAP direct payments among farmers has been a continuing source of controversy ever since the Commission’s 1991 Reflections Paper on the development and future of the CAP that prefigured the MacSharry reform noted that 80% of the support provided by FEOGA is devoted to 20% of farms which account also for the greater part of land used in agriculture. In successive CAP reform proposals the Commission has proposed measures that would allocate CAP support more evenly across farms, including in its 2018 legislative proposal for the CAP 2021-2027. On each occasion, the Council has pushed back and weakened the Commission proposal, as also happened with the outcome for the CAP post 2023 (the debate on redistribution in the 2018 reform is reviewed in this report for the European Parliament, chapter 5).… Read the rest

Conversation with a chatbot on the Common Agricultural Policy

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been described as the fourth industrial revolution, following the invention of the steam engine, electric power, and the internet. AI tools can rapidly synthesize large amounts of data and detect patterns. AI tools are increasingly used in business but also in the provision of public services in activities such as risk profiling, the delivery of medical care, and traffic management.

There is growing interest in the interface between AI and public policy. This is a relationship that works both ways. On the one hand, there are concerns about how best to regulate the use of AI in society.… Read the rest