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Möjliga klimatåtgärder och styrmedel i ett framtida landsbygdsprogram, Jordbruksverkets utvärderingsrapport 2021:1

This publication is written is Swedish but has a summary in English.

In light of climate change, it is necessary to reduce emissions of so called greenhouse gases. Agriculture is a sector that contributes significantly to these emissions. In the Rural Development Programme 2014–2020, farmers can apply for support to undertake measures that reduce their impact on the climate, so called climate measures. Some of these measures aim explicitly at reducing the emissions from the agricultural sector. Other measures do not have such an explicit aim but nonetheless have an impact on emissions.

In this evaluation, we evaluate 17 of the measures in the Rural Development Programme that are potentially economically profitable for society. In other words, we investigate how greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture can be reduced without leading to economic losses for society or for the farmers. We also discuss how the government can ensure that farmers undertake the most suitable climate measures, for example by using policy instruments such as knowledge dissemination, changing of norms, subsidies and certificates. In this way the report provides important conclusions for the design of future Rural Development Programmes.

The evaluation shows that two measures seem to be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a greater extent than the others: rewetting of organic soils and reforestation of marginal or abandoned arable land. However, rewetting leads to significant costs for the farmer. The conclusions are similar to results from the United Kingdom, France and Ireland. In all these cases, a better utilization of nitrogen, precision agriculture, eco-driving and a reduction of the protein levels in fodder seem to be good measures.

Many of the measures are economically profitable for the farmer. In spite of this, many of these measures are not undertaken to a sufficient extent. This can be because the costs have been incorrectly calculated, or that the results are not representative. Another possible reason is that the farmers have insufficient knowledge about the measures and that obtaining new information is costly. A third explanation can be that farms prefer to be satisfied with solutions they perceive as sufficiently good, instead of searching for the optimal solution and thus having to take risks with new technology. One way of getting farmers to undertake profitable measures is to disseminate more knowledge and to offer advice and demonstrate new technologies. It is also possible to try to change norms.

All public and private actors in the agricultural sectors are part of a system where knowledge is produced, disseminated and used. The system has an important role in future climate actions. Today, the system is focused on measures that are profitable to undertake and partially beneficial for the climate. There is less focus on measures with a large impact on the climate but that are not profitable. Developing measures that have a big climate benefit is also important, even if these measures might not be profitable for the farmer. If such measures lead to sufficient benefit for society, the state can subsidise them.