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Indicator Assessment

Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture in Europe

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-564-en
  Also known as: CLIM 056
Published 26 Oct 2021 Last modified 26 Oct 2021
1 min read

Greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture sector are covered by national annual emission targets. Between 2005 and 2019, the EU’s agriculture emissions remained stable. Current national projections only foresee a modest decline of 2% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels, and a 5% reduction with the implementation of currently planned measures. This projected progress remains largely insufficient and highlights the need for further action if Member States are to reach their binding annual targets and the EU its climate neutrality goal by 2050.

EU agricultural emissions by source

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Agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are covered under the EU Effort Sharing Decision (ESD) and Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR), which set annual targets for each Member State for the periods 2013-2020 and 2021-2030, respectively. Other emissions covered by these national targets include those from transport, buildings and waste. There are no specific targets for individual sectors, but national targets should collectively deliver a reduction of around 10% in total EU emissions from the sectors covered by 2020 and of 30% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. Emissions due to energy consumption from agriculture, forestry and fisheries (represented in Figure 1) are normally included the energy sector rather than agriculture, and are therefore not covered by this analysis. 

Methane (CH4) emissions from enteric fermentation and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from agricultural soils are responsible for more than 80% of total agricultural GHG emissions. CH4 emissions from manure management is the third most important source of emissions, with a share of about 10%. The remaining sources are relatively small with a collective contribution of less than 10% of total agricultural GHG emissions.

Between 2005 and 2019, EU agricultural GHG emission levels hardly changed and this trend is projected to continue. By 2030, national projections from EU Member States show a modest 2% decline in agricultural GHG emissions, compared with 2005 levels. Implementing currently planned measures reported by Member States would increase this to a decline of 5%.

With such a reduction in agricultural emissions, to achieve their national targets, Member States would have to achieve much greater reductions in other sectors covered by the ESR. The Impact Assessment of the European Commission’s Communication, Stepping up Europe’s 2030 climate ambition highlights the challenge to further reduce non-CO2 GHG emissions from agriculture. Measures commonly supported by the Common Agricultural Policy have not been effective so far. Support for some effective measures including use of foraged legumes, improved manure treatment and improved fertiliser application has been more sporadic (ref to ECA report). Reducing EU production, especially of livestock, is a direct way to reduce GHG emissions from EU agriculture. However, to avoid emissions 'leakage' to regions outside the EU, this must be matched by reduced demand in the EU, through less food waste and shifts in diet away from meat and dairy products towards more plant-based protein sources (ref to Farm to Fork Strategy).

Agricultural emissions by EU Member State

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Table

While agricultural GHG emissions hardly changed at the EU level between 2005 and 2019, significantly diverging trends can be observed at the national level. Emissions increased in 14 Member States and decreased in 13 Member States between 2005 and 2019. In Croatia, Malta and Greece, the decrease was more than 10% and in Latvia, Luxembourg, Hungary, Estonia and Bulgaria, the increase was more than 10%.

Based on their projections, Member States anticipate a continuation of historic trends under existing measures, although some anticipate reversing trends (e.g. from past decreases to future increases in Greece and Romania). Planned measures are expected to have an especially strong impact in reducing projected agricultural emissions in Luxembourg, Ireland, Spain, Belgium and Austria, where these measures would lead to a reduction in agricultural emissions of 10% or more by 2030 relative to projections with only existing measures. 12 Member States have not reported any measure that would bring additional reductions beyond existing measures.

Supporting information

Indicator definition

The indicator comprises historical and projected emissions estimates from the agriculture sector (CRF category 3), as well as historical emissions estimates from energy consumption in agriculture, forestry and fishing, expressed in million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2e). Historical emissions are presented at subcategory level with some aggregation (see Methodology for details), whereas projected emissions with existing measures and with additional measures are presented at aggregate level for the agriculture sector (CRF sector 3 only; excludes energy consumption).

Units

Million tonnes of CO2  equivalent (Mt CO2e) and percentage


 

Policy context and targets

Context description

Regulation (EU) 2018/842 lays down obligations on Member States with respect to their minimum contributions to meeting the greenhouse gas emission reduction target of the Union, for the period 2021-2030. The European Climate Law enshrines the goal for Europe to become climate-neutral by 2050, and includes a target of at least a 55% reduction in net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2030 compared to 1990. This acknowledges the need to revise this policy instrument to deliver the additional emissions reductions for 2030, for which the Commission made a proposal in July 2021.

Targets

No targets have been specified

Related policy documents

No related policy documents have been specified

 

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Historical and projected emissions estimates from all EU Member States and for the EU-27 aggregate were obtained from the publicly available databases published by the EEA.

For the presentation of historical trends in emissions by subcategory, the following small emissions categories were combined into a single 'Other'; aggregate category: Rice cultivation (CRF 3C), Prescribed burning of savannahs (CRF 3E), Field burning of agricultural residues (CRF 3F), Liming (CRF 3G), Urea application (CRF 3H), Other carbon containing fertilisers (CRF 3I) and Other agricultural emissions (CRF 3J).

For simplicity, emissions arising from Enteric fermentation (CRF 3A) and Manure management (CRF 3B) were presented for all livestock types combined. In addition, where emissions of several gases occur from the same subcategory (e.g. Manure management (CRF 3B) emissions comprise both CH4 and N2O), these have been combined into a single CO2e value. Direct and indirect N2O emissions from agricultural soils are also presented as a single CO2e figure.

The latest available version of the historical inventory and projected emissions is used to compile the indicator, but note that this may introduce small inconsistencies between the historical and projected emissions if projections for some Member States are not based on the latest inventory submission and recalculations have occurred.

 

References

European Court of Auditors, 2021. Common Agricultural Policy and climate: Half of EU climate spending but farm emissions are not decreasing. Special report 16. ISBN 978-92-847-6183-8. Available at: https://www.eca.europa.eu/Lists/ECADocuments/SR21_16/SR_CAP-and-Climate_EN.pdf

European Union, 2020. Farm to Fork Strategy: For a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system. Action plan report. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/food/system/files/2020-05/f2f_action-plan_2020_strategy-info_en.pdf

Methodology for gap filling

No methodology for gap filling has been specified. Probably this info has been added together with indicator calculation.

Methodology references

 

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sets uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sources

Other info

DPSIR: State
Typology: Policy-effectiveness indicator (Type D)
Indicator codes
  • CLIM 056
Frequency of updates
Updates are scheduled once per year
EEA Contact Info info@eea.europa.eu

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Geographic coverage

Temporal coverage

Dates

Tags

Filed under: trends, agriculture, projections
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