Slow Food Europe: von der Leyen’s Climate Commitments Cannot Bypass the CAP Reform and Biodiversity Loss

Slow Food Europe regrets that the priorities of the new Commission President, whose nomination was approved by the European Parliament on Tuesday evening, are not strict and explicit enough to respond to the climate crisis. Ursula von der Leyen, who is going to lead the Commission from this November, during her hearing did not suggest any changes in Europe’s agricultural policy, which is one of the key drivers for climate change and biodiversity loss. The European Parliament voted in favor for the nomination of von der Leyen by 383 votes to 327 against. She unexpectedly emerged as a candidate for the Commission President after 48 hours of negotiation between leaders of the European Union.

The newly approved Commission President has named climate change as her key priority, saying that “keeping our planet healthy is the greatest responsibility and opportunity of our times.” However, as the wave of climate protests and the results the European Elections made clear, the new Commission would have to address climate change stronger than ever before.

Slow Food Europe is certain, though, that in order to adequately address climate change, the former German defense minister has to look into the issue much deeper than just vowing to reach ambitious targets such as climate-neutrality by 2050 or CO2 emissions reduction by no less than 50% by 2030.

“The new Commission President focused greatly on climate commitments, promising to put forward the first-ever European Climate Law and bringing ambitious targets, but promises to be a frontrunner in the fight of climate change are empty, without detailing the policies that will be put in place to achieve these goals. You cannot seriously address climate change without looking at the current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which has disastrous effects on European farming, climate change, and biodiversity loss,” says Rachele Lodi, climate researcher and Slow Food’s International Councillor for Europe.

As of now, the CAP reform is set to continue supporting intensive farming, a major driver of biodiversity loss and climate change. One-third of greenhouse gas emissions come from industrial agricultural production; while, a recently released United Nations report revealed alarming results of the “unprecedented and accelerating” decline in global biodiversity.

“As Slow Food, we put the defense of biodiversity at the heart of our work. We believe that a coherent biodiversity strategy should include agriculture as one of the means to restore the environment and its capacity to produce good, clean and fair food. Agricultural biodiversity is at the core of our food security.”

Slow Food Europe also believes that it is fundamentally important for the EU to lead a key transformation in our food system. This can only be achieved through the creation of a holistic Common Food Policy, which integrates aspects such as health, trade, agriculture, culture, biodiversity, climate change, animal welfare, and many others that revolve around food. Slow Food Europe, along with other organizations, has recently issued an open letter, calling for a European Commission Vice-President to be made responsible for ensuring the transition to sustainable food systems. Slow Food Europe urges von der Leyen to support this call to remedy the democratic deficit in food systems and rebalance power.

Slow Food Europe’s Manifesto for the European Elections 2019

Indre Anskaityte, Slow Food Europe