MAREK KUCHCIŃSKI

MEMBER OF THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF RP - DISTRICT 22

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Carpathian Europe. Minister of Agriculture: Achieving climate neutrality will first and foremost require a shift away from the use of fossil fuels for energy production, and thus a radical change in the current operating model of the energy sector

Climate neutrality

Actions to achieve EU climate neutrality were initiated with the publication by the EC in November 2018 of a draft long-term EU low-carbon strategy to 2050 entitled "Clean Planet for All". "Clean Planet for All" (Clean Planet for All). The document presents a cross-cutting approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to achieve climate neutrality, i.e. the balance between greenhouse gas emissions and removals. Achieving climate neutrality is a huge challenge for civilization, which will require first and foremost a shift away from the use of fossil fuels for energy production and thus a radical change in the current model of functioning of the energy sector. In addition, it will be necessary to change the consumption patterns of societies and to implement new, as yet undeveloped technologies. The changes would affect all sectors of the economy, including, among others, energy, agriculture, transport, municipal and household sector, waste management, etc.

Since the beginning of the discussion on climate neutrality, the Government of the Republic of Poland has emphasized that, although the evolution of the economy and energy sector is in our interest, it must take place in a manner that is safe for citizens, the economy and the state. Raising the EU's reduction commitments must involve a detailed definition of how the reduction burden will be shared among member states and sectors of the economy. Moreover, it also requires the detailed description of compensation instruments for the most vulnerable industries, regions and countries, as well as the identification of appropriate tools for the implementation of targets.

Biodiversity

Environmental issues, including those related to the protection of biodiversity, will be taken into account in the designed future Common Agricultural Policy. In the new programming period, a new "green architecture" system is proposed, consisting of mutually complementary mandatory requirements and additional incentives to apply agricultural practices beneficial for the environment (including biodiversity) and climate. The first element of the green architecture will be the obligatory system of conditionality, the next one - voluntary systems for climate and environment for farmers, so called ecoschemes, and the next, most ambitious element will be pro-environmental support instruments - multiannual pro-environmental obligations implemented under pillar II.

Integration of environmental measures gives a chance for effective achievement of environmental and climate objectives. The implementation of the Strategy may have a positive impact on the agricultural sector, affecting, among others, a more rational and optimized use of fertilizers and plant protection products, creation or strengthening of product markets
and services in the agricultural sector (organic farming products, products and services related to
with habitat and species restoration) or implementation of innovative solutions.

Discussion on forest management

Ever-increasing environmental ambitions, including requirements and strictures set by the EU, among others.
In the European Green Deal, economic objectives in forests are being achieved
less than the potential productive capacity of forest ecosystems allows.

To reconcile environmental and economic goals, it is important to maintain the region's current model of sustainable forest use, which is already being implemented in concert
with nature conservation in accordance with the idea of sustainable development.

The CAP, as well as other national and EU funds, should give a chance to obtain funds for pro-environmental, protective and educational activities in forests, without limiting sustainable forest management. The current forestry model should remain unchanged, because only the continuation by individual states of the region of their own multifunctional and sustainable forest management, is a guarantee of preserving the natural richness of forests, while using their resources to meet social and economic needs.

Energy transition and its impact on agricultural production

Energy transformation in a broad sense is closely linked to rural areas. It is here, on the one hand, that the greatest potential of renewable sources exists (water, biomass, wind, sun), on the other hand, it is these areas that are most threatened by energy poverty. Therefore, we see in the use of renewable energy sources a great opportunity to improve living conditions in the countryside and new development opportunities for agriculture. The Green Deal brings with it a number of challenges, mainly in the area of the environment, but also in terms of maintaining the competitiveness of agricultural production and processing, which will be difficult to meet without ensuring stable energy supplies, the possibility of reducing emissions and managing waste and residues from agriculture and the agri-food industry.

From an agricultural point of view, the most important RES installations are those that, in addition to producing energy, directly support agriculture in achieving climate and environmental goals. During the energy transition, special attention should therefore be paid to the role of hydropower and agricultural biogas plants, which are still underestimated.

It is important to remember that with these solutions we can reduce the impact of our agricultural activities on the environment, including improving water, soil and air quality.

Small hydropower plants allow increasing water retention, which is very important for maintaining adequate soil moisture. Increased soil moisture results in increased crop production, which also increases soil carbon sequestration.

Agricultural biogas plants utilize by-products and residues from agriculture (including animal manure) and agri-food processing, thus limiting the emission of gases and odors associated with their storage. It is worth noting that the processing of animal waste in agricultural biogas plants contributes to the improvement of their fertilizing properties. The resulting digestate contains components that are more easily assimilated by plants and does not contain various pathogens, making it possible to limit the use of artificial fertilizers and chemical plant protection products.

In addition to generating electricity, each agricultural biogas plant can produce heat, cold, or gaseous fuel that can significantly improve the energy comfort of rural residents and reduce energy costs. Both hydropower and agricultural biogas plants enable energy production in a predictable, controllable and weather-independent manner, which is of great importance for improving energy security in rural areas.

We are aware that renewable energy sources will not replace large-scale, systemic power generation, but in rural areas they can significantly support the operation of the national power system. Therefore, we are particularly interested in solutions that will enable sustainable development of both agriculture and other activities in rural areas. With this in mind, we are working to develop prosumer energy in the form of energy cooperatives. We believe that local energy production for own needs is a good direction of development in order to effectively use all existing resources (water, biomass, wind, sun) and to achieve the objectives of the Green Deal.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Grzegorz Puda

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