Published Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Interactions between climate change and agriculture; and between biodiversity and agriculture in Europe 

There will be rising global demand for food and energy from the land over the coming decades resulting from population growth and economic development. This will coincide with the need to adapt agriculture to increasing climate-related threats (which will probably outweigh opportunities in Europe), whilst decreasing the impact of agricultural emissions on climate change. At the same time, biodiversity losses due to intensive agricultural practices and abandonment of biodiversity-rich farming are expected to continue. The long-term sustainability of farming is being undermined by trends such as soil degradation, declines in pollinators, the loss of natural biological control of pests and diseases, and the loss of plant and animal genetic diversity. 

Substantial changes in agricultural systems are required in Europe to ensure rapid reductions in agricultural emissions of greenhouse gases, as well as effective adaptation to climate change and strengthened biodiversity conservation. This report describes a range of practices and developments in agriculture that could sustainably increase agricultural productivity whilst contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and providing biodiversity benefits. Policy could play a larger role in supporting innovation and development in the full range of agricultural systems in Europe and in the use of certain wastes and residues for energy purposes. The report provides a set of recommended options for incentivising beneficial actions, constraining unsustainable practices, and promoting innovative options whilst ensuring environmental safeguards for new technologies that might have unwanted negative impacts on biodiversity.