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EU Taxonomy: Better no Delegated Act than a greenwashed one

Today, a coalition of 25 environmental NGOs has sent a letter to the European Commission urging it not to produce a Taxonomy Delegated Act on agriculture unless it closely follows the advice of its expert group, the Platform on Sustainable Finance. Given the growing scientific evidence on the harmful environmental impacts of intensive agriculture, the NGO coalition believes that no Delegated Act would be better than one that greenwashes destructive practices. This call comes after the Commission’s controversial decision to label gas-fired power and nuclear energy as sustainable in the Taxonomy, the EU’s green investments guidebook. 

“The way we are farming our lands has created a time bomb towards an ecosystem collapse. One of the main reasons for such a destructive agriculture is to uphold the dreadful industrial livestock production that should certainly not be tagged as green!,” said Marilda Dhaskali, EU Agriculture and Bioenergy Policy Officer at BirdLife Europe & Central Asia.“The EU Commission cannot let this blatant greenwash pass, which is in complete contradiction with the numerous scientific evidence, starting from the latest IPCC report.”

Industrial livestock farming has significant negative effects on the environment, in and around the farm, and through the intensive production of cereals, such as wheat, maize, barley, and oats, which is necessary to feed the animals. According to the European Commission, almost two-thirds of cereals produced in the EU are used as animal feed. Growing these crops often involves intensive monoculture farming – which means growing a single crop on the same land year after year with the abundant use of pesticides and fertilizers. This can lead to soil degradation, loss of biodiversity, overuse and pollution of water, and air pollution, which all harm the environment and undermine three of the Taxonomy Regulation’s environmental objectives – biodiversity, freshwater, and pollution prevention and control.

In addition, industrial livestock production does significant harm to the Taxonomy Regulation’s climate objectives. As echoed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), producing animal-sourced food, like meat and dairy, emits a larger amount of greenhouse emissions than growing crops, especially in intensive industrial livestock systems. 

However, falsely labelling industrial livestock as sustainable will not only undermine the credibility of the EU Taxonomy even further and weaken its ability to drive positive change: it would boost financing for activities that will hinder the EU’s ability to reach its own climate and environmental goals. We stands ready to publicly oppose any Delegated Act that greenwashes the industrial livestock sector and is prepared to explore, with other organisations, every appropriate action to challenge it. 

Image credits: Lapwing / Vanellus vanellus by Yves Adams

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