Protesting Farmers Win Big Concessions, But EU Leaders Dig in Their Heels on Net Zero Climate Target

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by John-Michael Dumais, Childrens Health Defense:

After the farmer protests in Brussels last week, European Commission leaders announced concessions to lighten the burden of greenhouse gas reductions on growers, but held the course with plans to cut 90% of emissions by 2040.

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The new commission plan drops the requirement to reduce farm-related emissions such as nitrogen, nitrous oxide and methane by one-third and removes the recommendation that EU citizens eat less meat, The Telegraph reported.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday also offered to drop her proposal requiring farmers to cut pesticide use in half by 2030, saying it had become “a symbol of polarisation,” according to The Guardian.

Other concessions included limiting Ukrainian agricultural imports and delaying rules for setting aside more land to promote soil health and biodiversity.

At the behest of von der Leyen’s center-right European People’s Party, the revised commission plan features language praising the value of the agricultural sector, noting its importance for attaining the EU goal of food sovereignty, wrote Politico.

The compromise comes after weeks of escalating demonstrations by farmers in France, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Lithuania and other EU countries against several policies — from fuel subsidies and unfair trade practices to green emissions rules and taxes — that they said threaten their livelihoods.

The farmers argued the climate regulations have singled them out unfairly, imposing a disproportionate burden compared to other industries that also damage the environment, according to the Washington Examiner.

Over the past several weeks, tractors in several European cities blocked major highways and city streets — even an airport — forcing national governments to the negotiating table before the EU Parliament summit in Brussels last week.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition last month agreed not to eliminate a tax rebate on new agricultural vehicles, and to more gradually phase out subsidies on agricultural diesel fuel.

In France, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal’s government in January increased subsidies to livestock farmers, withdrew plans for a fuel tax hike, promised to clearly define lab-grown meat, banned the import of food grown with a neonicotinoid pesticide already prohibited in the country and suspended its pesticide-reduction plan.

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