CAP and Climate Changes – What Exactly did Auditors Find?

€100 billion of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funds attributed to climate action had “little impact” on greenhouse gas emissions. That’s according the European Court of Auditors (ECA), in a report released 21st June, that was analyzed by ARC2020 experts.

Climate spending represents 26% of the overall CAP budget, which in itself is half of EU’s total climate spending  – yet overall farm emissions are not decreasing. Despite this considerable sum, there is little to be shown as a result.

Comparing the 2007-2013 and 2014-2020 periods, the auditors found that “most mitigation measures supported by the CAP have a low potential to mitigate climate change. The CAP “rarely finances measures with high climate mitigation potential.” Unsurprisingly, agriculture emissions “have not changed significantly since 2010” the report states.

The report emphasises some specific areas where CAP fails to curb emissions. For example, CAP does not seek to limit or reduce livestock – 50% of agriculture emissions. Overall livestock emissions have been stable since 2010, while “emissions from chemical fertilizers and manure, accounting for almost a third of agricultural emissions, increased between 2010 and 2018”. Concurrently, CAP continues to financially support and promote the consumption of animal products “the consumption of which has not decreased since 2014”.  

Another example is the fact that CAP supports farmers who cultivate drained peatlands – 20% of emissions.

The report finds that CAP does at least support practices that “may reduce” the use of fertilisers, such as organic farming and grain legumes. However, the auditors found that these practices have “an unclear impact on greenhouse gas emissions.”

ECA made three specific recommendations to address the lack of climate action from CAP 

  • the Commission takes action so that the CAP reduces emissions from agriculture;
  • takes steps to reduce emissions from cultivated drained organic soils; and
  • reports regularly on the contribution of the CAP to climate mitigation.

More information about the results from the audit report you can find on the arc2020 website .