Sustainability / Environment

EU Climate Advisers Recommend Shifting Subsidies Away From Animal Ag & Encouraging Plant-Based Diets

The European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change has released a report outlining several recommendations for addressing the climate crisis, including shifting subsidies away from animal agriculture.

The authors say that the common agricultural policy (CAP) “should be better aligned with EU goals”. This could include “shifting CAP support away from emission-intensive agricultural practices, including livestock production”, instead prioritising lower-emissions products and other environmental policies.

Furthermore, the report recommends measures to “encourage healthier, more plant-based diets”, along with other strategies to aid the transition towards a climate-neutral food system. For example, emissions pricing should be extended to the agricultural and food sectors, making high-emission foods more expensive and therefore discouraging their purchase.

Other agricultural recommendations include a standalone emissions reduction objective and practices that reduce methane and nitrous oxide production while increasing soil carbon. The report also suggests phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, improving renewable energy policies to boost investment in the sector, and more.

Compassion in World Farming
© Compassion in World Farming

Realigning subsidies

The idea of shifting subsidies away from animal agriculture is not new. In 2022, the European Commission approved a European Citizens’ Initiative called End the Slaughter Age, which proposed transferring subsidies from the livestock industry to alternative proteins. However, it appears that the initiative fell short of the one million signatures required for it to pass.

Last year, FAIRR — an investor network supported by investors with over $70 trillion in AUM — signed a statement urging the G20 group to reform “harmful” agricultural subsidies by 2030. Additionally, a recent Plant Based Treaty report has called for a redirection of subsidies currently given to the meat and dairy industries towards improving the accessibility of plant-based food.

“Globally, governments are setting bold climate and nature goals, but in the same breath are undermining those ambitions with almost $500 billion in harmful agricultural subsidies for high-emitting commodities such as red meat,” said Jeremy Coller, founder of FAIRR. “We need to realign subsidies to nature goals to support a transition for farmers and to ensure a level regulatory playing field for alternative proteins and other sustainable solutions.”

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