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More than 80% of CAP payments undermine EU climate targets, study finds

More than 80% of payments from the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are intended directly or indirectly for livestock farming, undermining the EU's climate objectives, underlines a study in the scientific journal Nature Food, published Monday.

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More than 80% of CAP payments undermine EU climate targets, study finds

More than 80% of payments from the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are intended directly or indirectly for livestock farming, undermining the EU's climate objectives, underlines a study in the scientific journal Nature Food, published Monday. While food systems represent almost a third of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming, the CAP is “economically dissuasive for transitions” towards more sustainable practices, according to this study.

“We have shown that the CAP disproportionately supports meat products to the detriment of plant production,” indicates the main author of the study, Anniek Kortleve, from the Dutch University of Leiden. “It’s a bit of a surprise. This is a little more pronounced than what other previously published studies have shown, because of the consideration of aid for animal feed,” she explained.

Direct subsidies to breeders represent half of the aid - which amounted to 57 billion euros in 2013 - thus financing agriculture that emits high greenhouse gases, according to the researchers. The rest is largely made up of subsidies to support livestock production, particularly food production, according to the study. Aid for cattle breeding thus increases from 71 euro cents per kilo to 1.42 euros, including livestock feed.

Also readCountries, sectors, farms... Who really receives the 58 billion euros from the CAP?

The study focuses on 2013, the last year when all the analyzed data is available, but the aid figures show that “little has changed” in their distribution until 2020, explained Paul Behrens, co-author of the study. 'study. Given the importance of agricultural aid in the EU budget, the authors of the study believe that it undermines the European continent's objectives in terms of mitigation and adaptation to global warming.

Globally, “emissions from the food system are enough to take us beyond 1.5 degrees,” said Paul Behrens, referring to the limit on temperature rise set by the Paris climate agreement of 2015 compared to pre-industrial times. “It will be very difficult to respect this objective if we put in place an economic system which encourages the most harmful productions,” added this associate professor at the University of Leiden.

Reserving tracts of land for livestock and their feed also prevents reforestation and other practices that could allow the return of more plant and animal species and better carbon absorption, he added. Recognizing the importance of aid for farmers, he called for “reinventing” the system to encourage “environmental services” while adapting to “much more precarious” conditions linked to global warming.

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