Fact Check: The EU Does NOT Want To Eliminate 90% Of Farms, Cars And Agricultural Fields By 2040

Fact Check

  • de: Ioana Burtea
Fact Check: The EU Does NOT Want To Eliminate 90% Of Farms, Cars And Agricultural Fields By 2040 No Such Target

Did the European Union lay out a plan to reduce pollution on the continent by eliminating 90 percent of animal farms, cars, and agricultural fields by 2040? No, that's not true: The European Commission published a detailed impact assessment with a recommendation to reduce greenhouse emissions by 90 percent on the continent by 2040 - not to eliminate 90 percent of farms or vehicles.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) published on TikTok by user @iondragoshoreaba2023 on February 7, 2024, with a caption and comments translated into English from Romanian by Lead Stories staff. The caption reads:

European Union lays out plan to reduce 90% of 'pollution'

The narrator says:

Do you know what this means? It means they intend to cut off 90% of what produces pollution. What do they say are pollutants? Cattle, so they intend to destroy 90% of farms, cars and agricultural fields.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-02-09 at 13.17.40.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Fri Feb 9 11:04:59 2024 UTC)

The Commission published, on February 6, 2024, a detailed impact assessment on how to achieve Europe's climate neutrality by 2050. The main recommendation is "a 90 percent net greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2040 compared to 1990 levels," according to the EC's press release (archived here). This does not mean a literal 90 percent reduction of the number of farms, cars, or agricultural fields that may contribute to emissions, but a 90 percent reduction of the overall amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.

The European Commission states that its purpose is to launch a political debate and provide a recommendation for the next commission (archived here) to debate after the European Union's parliamentary elections in June 2024.

Following weeks of farmers' protests (archived here) all across Europe, the assessment no longer refers to cutting agricultural emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas produced by cows, or nitrogen, a pollutant in fertilizer and manure. It does not propose new policy measures or set new sector-specific targets for agriculture and instead focuses on the energy and transport sectors (archived here).

  Ioana Burtea

Ioana Burtea has worked in journalism for over 15 years. She started her career at Mediafax news agency in Bucharest and has written for DoR magazine for over seven years. Her collaborations include publications like Europe & Me, New Eastern Europe, Balkan Insight and Washington Post. Ioana published pieces on the justice system in Romania, social affairs, politics and personal essays. In 2018, she became a fellow of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network. In 2021, she received the first prize in the Portrait category at the national Superscrieri journalism awards. Her first non-fiction book, Fara instructiuni de folosire (transl. No operating instructions), was launched in 2023. 

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