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MEP wants farming pollution proposals weakened

The European Commission’s proposal to regulate methane under the National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive should be binned, according to MEP Jan Huitema of the liberal ALDE group.

He also stated that the 27% reduction target proposed for ammonia for 2030 relative to 2005 levels should be watered down, while an interim target for ammonia emissions in 2025 should be scrapped.


Mr. Huitema is leading work on revising the NEC Directive on the European Parliament’s agriculture committee. Based on the Parliament’s position, the Commission may revise its predecessor’s 2013 proposal to set stringent targets air pollution limits for 2030, vice-president Frans Timmermans said in front of Parliament on 9th of March.

The 2013 proposal to include methane in the NEC Directive for the first time with a target to cut emissions by 33% by 2030 would result in unfair over-regulation of farmers, Mr Huitema said.

Methane’s inclusion would reduce member states’ flexibility under the 2009 Effort Sharing Decision (ESD), which sets greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for sectors other than heavy industry and electricity, he said.


The proposed EU targets are:

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)

81% in 2030 (59% in 2020)

Mono-Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) 69% in 2030 (42% in 2020)
Volatile Organic Comp. (VOCs) 50% in 2030 (28% in 2020)
Ammonia (NH3) 27% in 2030 (6% in 2020)
Particulates (PM2.5) 51% in 2030 (22% in 2020)
Methane (CH4) 33% in 2030


Agriculture is a major source of both methane and ammonia emissions and is one of the main sectors regulated under the ESD.

The 27% ammonia goal is excessive given EU emissions have been cut by 30% since 1990, Mr. Huitema argued. The Commission should come forward with a new proposal next year “taking account of achievable targets for different member states”.

The agriculture committee is likely to finalize its position in May. This will feed into the work of the environment committee, which is leading work on the file and is likely to finalize its position in July 2015.


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Issue 40