Today, the European Parliament voted to drop proposed restrictions on pollution from factory farms, sabotaging the European Commission’s efforts to step up environmental and climate action. Following pressure by the big agribusiness lobby, Parliamentarians decided to give all cattle farms and many industrial pig and chicken farms a free pass to pollute and to wreck the climate.
Giving factory farms a free pass
Farm lobbies like Copa-Cogeca, which is reported to represent industrial interests over smallholder farmers, have lobbied EU decision-makers to exclude cattle farms and many big pig and poultry farms from having to comply with EU emission rules. In line with their demands, today the Parliament voted to keep cattle out of scope, and to keep the outdated definitions for industrial pig and poultry farms (any farm with more than 40,000 poultry, 2,000 pigs and 750 sows).
This is not surprising in light of a recent investigation from Politico and Lighthouse Reports, which revealed that Copa-Cogeca has captured the EU decision-making process, including the EU Parliament.
Bowing down to industrial lobbies
“Today’s vote dealt another blow to the European Green Deal. The Parliament proved the least progressive of the three main EU institutions, bowing down to industry lobbies. Even the European Commission and ministers have set more ambitious targets," commented Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU.
"Parliamentarians voted today to let cattle farms and big pig and poultry farms pollute the environment and wreck the climate," Olga added. "MEPs chose to ignore the overwhelming scientific evidence on the need to cut methane emissions. Climate pollutants like methane are on top of the list for political action to avoid the worst of global heating."
"The Parliament’s proposal goes against the EU treaties because it would be step back for environmental protection," she warned. "The MEPs who voted for this have no shame in destroying the future of the generations to come. This sets a bad precedent for any upcoming progressive proposals.”
The battle so far
Last year, the European Commission proposed to change the EU’s Industrial Emissions Directive to make sure the rules apply to more industrial farms, including cows, but at the same time they proposed laxer rules for approval of operations. Now that Parliament wants to keep the outdated definition for industrial animal farms and to let cattle farms loose, this would actually weaken existing rules. This is even less ambitious than the position of EU environmental ministers, who agreed to water down the Commission’s proposal but want cattle farms to be covered.
For more information, please see our joint briefing with policy recommendation for the Industrial Emissions Directive.
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