Dieser Blog präsentiert eine Auswahl verschiedener Texte von mir. Die Herangehensweise ist multilingual und interdisziplinär. Die Themen sind international und betreffen vor allem Nachhaltigkeit, Wirtschaft, Politik und soziale Aspekte.
Viel Vergnügen! - JJ Bürger -

Ce blog rassemble une séléction de mes textes. L'approche est plurilingue et interdisciplinaire. Les sujets sont internationaux et concernent notamment la durabilité, l'économie, la politique et certains aspects sociaux. Bonne lecture! - JJ Bürger -

Saturday, March 31, 2012

On the fastlane to animal welfare?


After the publication of the European Commission's report on the Council Regulation on the protection of animals during transport, in november 2011, the European Parliament now prepares to have its say, too.
The Parliament's report argues that the Commission does not yet dispose of sufficient capacities to ensure the member states' correct implementation of the Regulation on the protection of animals during transport. The report also suggests that the costs of better animal welfare should be assessed in a more holistic approach, and that all members of the value chain should contribute to financing these costs. Moreover, the report prepared by the Parliament advocates a stronger focus on local animal processing (which would reduce animal transports) and reducing the maximum allowed duration for animal transports to 8 hours. This idea also reflects a citizen's initiative (dating from the time before the new rules for citizen's initiatives), which had been in favor of limiting the duration of animal transports.

The Parliament's commission on agriculture is expected to vote on this report by July 2012, and the Parliament's plenary session in September 2012. The rapporteur in charge of the report is Janusz Wojciechowski (European Conservatives and Reformists, Poland).
Janusz Wojciechowski

Once again, the European institutions will have to show that they are capable of living up to their (rather new found) explicit principle, according to which European animal welfare protection must not lead to any distorsion of competition. As the Commission itself pointed out: "The competitiveness of EU producers is one of the key objectives of the Commission's policy on animal welfare. There is no point in improving EU welfare standards if it has the effect of increasing imports from third countries with lower standards".

Sunday, March 25, 2012

LULUCF: When Climate and Environment meet Agriculture and Forestry

The European Commission recently presented new concepts for rules taking into account the contribution of agriculture and forestry to mitigating climate change.


In order to improve accounting rules and action plans on the impact agriculture and forestry have on greenhouse gases, the European Commission adopted in March 2012 a new Communication and a legislative proposal on "LULUCF". This abbreviation, which refers to "Land use, land use change and forestry", is used by the Commission in order to sum up different kinds of activities directly or indirectly related to agriculture and forestry. The Commission's Communication and legislative proposal constitute a step towards a European Climate policy that takes into account the greenhouse gases emitted and absorbed by activities related to LULUCF.

Thus, the proposed legislative decision establishes accounting rules applicable to two of the largest remaining economic sectors that, up to now, have not been covered by such rules on a European level: agriculture and forestry. The proposal also calls on EU member states to adopt action plans in order to reinforce carbon capture and storage and to decrease emissions by improving soil and forest management.
The proposal does not contain any commitment relating to national targets for reducing these sectors' emissions. However, such targets might still be defined at a later stage, when the efficiency of the proposed accounting rules will have been evaluated.

The European Commission, trying to avoid reflecting a negative or stigmatizing image of agriculture and forestry, emphasizes the efforts deployed by these sectors in order to preserve the environment and to mitigate climate change, and deplores that these efforts were not sufficiently recognized. According to the Commission, this was also due to the difficulty of collecting reliable and exhaustive data in LULUCF-sectors, and to the lack of commonly accepted accounting rules. As the United Nations finally adopted such common accounting rules in December 2011 (an addition to the Kyoto Protocol that the 2009 conference in Copenhagen had failed to achieve), the Commission now claims to be ready to transpose these rules to the European Union. The Commission also stated that this would allow European farmers and foresters to be financially reimbursed for the greenhouse gases they store. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has been mentioned in the context of these reimbursements. Foresters might receive such payments via the post-2013 EU-policy on rural development, as the legislative proposal suggests. While these promises are obviously likely to please farmers and foresters, it is not yet clear how and to what extent the Commission's LULUCF-proposal might imply an increase of regulatory imperatives in the field of agriculture and forestry.

The European Commission claims that, apart from storing greenhouse gases, forestry is also concerned in many other ways by climate change: as trees are particularly long-lived plants, their adaptation to rapid climate changes might be especially difficult; forests are vital for soil-water systems, which is very relevant when considering extreme climate events such as droughts and floods; and deforestation still accounts for approximately one quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.

In spite of the importance of LULUCF-activities for climate change, the Commission's legislative proposal also stresses that it takes a long-term perspective, as the organic processes involved in plant-development and soil-management cannot produce immediate short-term changes. This long-term vision is also necessary because annual fluctuations can have an important impact on total emissions, and because greenhouse gas storage by LULUCF remains reversible. In deed, once these gases are captured and stored, they still might be released any time by management decisions or by extreme events such as fires, storms, floods and biological diseases. However, the Commission's proposal underlines that it is vital to take these long-term measures, especially on a "Union level in parallel with the international processes".

The Commission's proposal must now be discussed and validated by the European Parliament and the Council. The EU member states, represented in the Council, will also have the role of establishing national action plans. Yet, several member states have been using their influence to block the Commission's proposal for a European framework directive on soil protection. The current LULUCF-proposal and other recent actions of the Commission clearly aim to promote soil protection measures while avoiding the topic of the deadlocked negotiations on the framework directive on soil protection. Will a sufficient majority of the Council's member states be seduced by this approach?

For further information, you may also consult the Commission's LULUCF memo and the impact analysis that underpins the Commission's proposal.