Report on Climate Protection in the Agricultural and Food System in Germany

Prof H. Grethe and Ferike Thom (HU Berlin) give recommendations for the implementation of climate protection goals in agriculture

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© Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash

The f4f scientists Prof Dr Harald Grethe and Ferike Thom (both Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) contributed to the report “Climate Protection in the Agricultural and Food System in Germany”, which the Climate Neutrality Foundation has now published. The report criticizes the fact that the draft of a revised climate protection law submitted by the federal government contains inadequate and not very specific measures and instruments to achieve the goal of reducing the permitted annual emissions from 70 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 2020 to 56 million tonnes in the agricultural sector to be achieved by 2030. In addition, the experts state a lack of specific targets for agriculture beyond 2030.

In addition to the large number of technological options for reducing CO2 equivalents, the report recommends focusing on three central areas of activity:

1) Improving nitrogen efficiency
This could not only lead to savings in relevant quantities of greenhouse gas emissions, but also have positive effects on other sustainability goals such as water protection or air quality. The experts propose material flow balancing of the individual agricultural companies and also to introduce a nitrogen tax on the consumption of mineral fertilizers.

2) Reduction of consumption and production of animal products
The existing consumption habits and the high proportion of animal products in agricultural value added make fundamental changes necessary. Possible measures could be classic information campaigns, the role model effect of public catering, educational offers in daycare centers and schools and the introduction of an official climate label for food. In addition, the privilege for animal products in sales tax should be ended immediately and the standard rate of 19% (accompanied by compensation for low-income households) should apply to animal products.

3) rewetting of peatland
The use of drained peatlands causes around 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. The development of a national peatland protection strategy is recommended for ensure the rewetting. It should contain clear goals (comprehensive rewetting by 2045), political decisions on the specification and financing, and the creation or possible instruments. Those could be voluntary incentives, planning and regulatory measures or the taxation of emissions.

The experts state that the extensive transformation of the agricultural and food system must be part of a new embedding of agriculture in society and a realignment of agricultural and food policy.


Report on Climate Protection in the Agricultural and Food System in Germany (in German language)
Interview from HU Berlin (in German language)