Meeting climate change goals ‘could reduce need for farming cuts’
The Netherlands may not have to reduce nitrogen compound emissions as much as currently thought, but only if it meets all its European climate change targets, according to a study by the finance ministry.
The unpublished paper, obtained by NRC, says the original estimate of the extent of the cuts needed to protect designated natural areas by 2030 does not take into account the future effects of other measures to cut emissions.
Currently some provinces must reduce nitrogen emission by almost half, while around Natura 2000 nature reserves emissions have to be cut by 95%. That would require up to one-third of farmers to give up their business.
Dutch farmers have been protesting against the government plans for forced buyouts for the last week, disrupting traffic and blockading food distribution centres.
If the Netherlands manages to comply with European targets to cut pollution from traffic, industry, aviation and construction, the reductions faced by farmers could be brought back to between a quarter and half of what they are now, the paper said.
The finance ministry figures appear to support farmers’ claims that they are being unfairly singled out and made to bear the bulk of emission reductions. The industry also disputes the methods used to measure emissions from agriculture.
A spokesman for the agriculture department said it not aware of the study. The finance ministry emphasised the figures are based on ‘a theoretical model’ and do not constitute a ‘policy recommendation or ‘point of view’.
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