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This week, when European farming has been in media headlines and the crosshairs of environmentalists, a new report sheds light on a little-known threat to European agriculture.

Under the guise of environmentalism, a strange transformation is taking place. Farmers are no longer encouraged to farm crops, rear animals, or produce animal products. Instead, they have a new product to farm: carbon credits.  

The report, “The Dangers of Carbon Farming -An Unholy Alliance between Finance and Environmentalism”, launched today, was written for the think tank MCC Brussels by the journalist Thomas Fazi and calls out “an unholy alliance of big finance and environmentally-minded NGOs and bureaucrats who have identified farms as a source of a new, precious commodity: a license to emit carbon.”

You can read the full report here 

The report says that the problem with carbon farming is that producing cardon credits requires farmers to reduce or cease agricultural production. The logic of this process is brutally simple but potentially devastating for agriculture. By letting land lie fallow, farmers make reductions to greenhouse gas emissions. To incentivize this behaviour, farmers can claim credit for the land they leave unproductive. Industrial companies can purchase the credits to “offset” these against their emissions. This report illustrates how big finance and big environmentalism have captured EU policymaking on farming. 

Small Farms are the biggest victims:  

According to the report, the smallest farms - ironically, the ones with the most to commend them in environmentalist terms - are the most significant casualties of this process. 

The report says, 

“When all these aspects are considered, it seems inevitable to conclude that carbon farming will disproportionately hurt small farmers vis-à-vis large ones, leading to further concentration and consolidation of agricultural land to the disadvantage of small and mid-sized farmers. In the event of introducing a compliance carbon market, or cap-and-trade system, for agriculture, these effects would be even more marked, of course, as small farms that cannot implement emission-reduction techniques would be squeezed out of the market.”

As one study put it: “In smaller farms, the application of [emission] reduction techniques is simply unprofitable financially”. 

Thomas Fazi, the report author, summing up the real effect of carbon farming said:

"Carbon farming is a perfect example of how the EU's technocratic and corporate-driven climate agenda isn't just harmful to the small and medium businesses that are the backbone of the EU's economy – but is also likely to be completely self-defeating in environmental terms. Small farmers play a crucial role in Europe's food security, and they deserve our support." 

Fazi, commenting on the carpet-bagging land grab that goes hand in hand with Carbon farming, concluded,

"In recent years, EU policies have already resulted in significant land-grabbing processes and concentration. Three per cent of farms in the European Union already control around 50 per cent of the land. Carbon farming, by placing unbearable financial and administrative burdens on small farmers and financially rewarding big landowners for owning land, would dramatically accelerate this growing farmland concentration and consolidation trend, representing a serious threat to European food security". 

You can read the full report here. 


About the author

Thomas Fazi
Author, researcher and journalist 

Thomas Fazi is an independent researcher, writer and journalist based in Rome. He is the author of several books, including The Battle for Europe: How an Elite Hijacked a Continent – and How We Can Take It Back (Pluto Press, 2014); Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World (co-authored with Bill Mitchell; Pluto Press, 2017); and The Covid Consensus: The Global Assault on Democracy and the Poor—A Critique from the Left (co-authored with Toby Green; Hurst, 2023). He is a columnist for UnHerd and Compact