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EU agricultural ministers to discuss role of soil carbon sequestration in mitigating climate change

EU2019FIMinistry of Agriculture and Forestry 2.9.2019 9.42 | Published in English on 2.9.2019 at 13.59
Press release

Agricultural ministers from EU member states will gather for an informal meeting in Helsinki on 22–24 September to discuss the role of soil carbon sequestration in climate action. The ministers will also visit a Finnish farm and a forest management site.

Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Jari Leppä will chair the meeting.

Soil carbon sequestration has a pivotal role in climate action

Finland considers soil carbon sequestration on agricultural land to be a key way of reducing carbon emissions from agriculture. With suitable cultivation methods and land use solutions, fields could absorb more carbon from the atmosphere and also act as important carbon stocks.

Over the past few decades in the EU, the total carbon stock of agricultural land has generally decreased. At the Informal Meeting of Ministers for Agriculture in Helsinki, the ministers will discuss how to best promote carbon sequestration in agriculture, including through the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020.

“The core task of agriculture is to produce nutritious food sustainably. However, agricultural policy has for a long time also been used to combat climate change and address environmental challenges. Farmers play an active role in tackling climate challenges, which is why we want to encourage debate on the opportunities created by carbon sequestration,” says Jari Leppä, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.

The discussions between the agricultural ministers will contribute to negotiations on the EU’s long-term climate objective. Most of the member states are ready to strive for net-zero carbon emissions, that is, a balance between carbon emissions and carbon sinks, by 2050. Finland’s aim during its Presidency of the Council of the EU is to reach an agreement on the EU’s climate objective.

Highlighting the special features of Finnish agriculture and forestry

The ministers will also visit a Finnish dairy farm and a forest management site. The visits will showcase characteristics specific to sustainable agriculture and forestry in Finland. At the dairy farm, the ministers will learn about animal health and welfare and the importance of grassland in Finnish milk production.

“The way in which Finnish farmers promote animal welfare, for example, is world-class. Visits to different member states are an excellent opportunity to share experiences between countries and to show the different conditions under which the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy is implemented,” Minister Leppä says.

Finland holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union between 1 July and 31 December 2019. During its Presidency, Finland is chairing six informal meetings of ministers, all of which are held at Finlandia Hall in Helsinki.

International media representatives covering the informal meetings of ministers must complete their accreditation via the online accreditation system at the latest two weeks before the meeting. Accreditation for the Informal Meeting of Ministers for Agriculture closed at 16.00 Finnish time on Friday 6 September. In connection with the meeting, media representatives will have an opportunity to visit sites representing different sectors of the Finnish bioeconomy (e.g. biofuels, agriculture) on Monday 23 September.

Inquiries:

Ahti Hirvonen, Head of Unit, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 295 162 337
Satu Haapaniemi, Special Adviser to the Minister, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 50 400 5193
Pekka Väisänen, Chief Communications Specialist, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 295 162 480 (interview requests and site visits for the media)

Jari Leppä
Agriculture and Fisheries Council
agriculture
carbon sequestration
carbon sinks