Green recovery

Decoupling greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture production: How does the EU fare?

23/10/2023 PNG

The European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork strategy have placed the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the food system as one of their overarching goals. GHG emissions from the EU agricultural sector fell by 7% in the period 2000-19, less than the OECD average of 8%. Japan and Australia reached even higher emissions reductions of 9% and 15%, while progress was lower for China (-4%). In Canada and the United States, GHG emissions increased by 4% and 13%, respectively.  

Still, the EU agricultural sector directly generated 383 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2-eq) of GHG in 2020, representing 11% of total GHG emissions in the European Union, above the OECD average of 10%. In the European Union, most emissions reductions occurred before 2012, while agricultural GHG emissions increased by 4% between 2013 and 2017. Recent trends show slow progress and indicate a stabilising rather than reducing emissions level, despite the reduction of the emissions intensity per unit of output (partial decoupling).  

Further efforts for agriculture to contribute to achieving EU’s environmental ambitions for food systems will require redesigning the Common Agricultural Policy and the regulatory and innovation environment.  

Learn more: Policies for the Future of Farming and Food in the European Union