The European Union has backed down on Net Zero targets for agriculture, including drastic cuts in fertiliser and pesticide use and a recommendation that people eat less meat, following widespread protests from farmers. The Telegraph has more.
The European Union has caved in to angry protests from farmers and cut a target to slash agricultural emissions as part of the bloc’s net zero drive.
A demand to reduce nitrogen, methane and other emissions linked to farming by almost a third has been removed from a wider Brussels plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2040.
On Tuesday, Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, also proposed withdrawing the EU’s plan to halve the use of pesticides, calling it a “symbol of polarisation”.
“Our farmers deserve to be listened to,” she told the European Parliament.
“I know that they are worried about the future of agriculture and their future as farmers. But they also know that agriculture needs to move to a more sustainable model of production so that their farms remain profitable in the years to come.”
A recommendation urging EU citizens to eat less meat was also removed from the plan.
The concessions came amid mounting demonstrations by farmers in Belgium, France, Germany and Italy ahead of this year’s EU elections.
Blockades on supermarket distribution centres have left shelves empty in Brussels, while several people have been injured in traffic accidents caused by farmers’ protests in the Netherlands, as they dumped rubbish and set fires on highways.
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The Telegraph‘s James Crisp says farmers are “holding the EU hostage and winning”. The EU climbdown on Net Zero rules “will not stuff the Eurosceptic genie back into the bottle”.
Polls predict anti-EU parties will win June’s European Parliament elections in nine member states – Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Slovakia.
Now fully emerged from their defensive crouch after Britain’s painful Brexit negotiations, they are set to come second or third in another nine EU countries.
The EU fears that those results could be boosted by the farmers’ populist revolt.
Tractor protests against climate rules handed a Dutch farmer’s party a landslide victory in regional elections last year after the vote became a referendum on establishment politics.
After the ruling coalition collapsed, voters turned to Geert Wilders, an anti-migrant, Nexit-backing, farmer-supporting firebrand in November’s snap General Election.
Copycat tractor protests have since been held in France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Poland, and Romania, are expected soon in Slovakia and erupted in Spain on Tuesday.
Eurosceptic parties have adopted the farmer’s fight, robbing pro-EU forces of a constituency it has long regarded as its own thanks to the bloc’s huge agricultural subsidies.
A key battleground in the looming campaign is the pushback against the EU’s 2050 Net Zero target, a culture war given impetus by the cost of living crisis.