Seeking optimality in climate change agri-food policies: stakeholder perspectives from Western Europe

Agni Kalfagianni, O.J. Kuik

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This article examines stakeholder perspectives on the ‘optimality’ of the climate policy mix in the agri-food sector in the EU using the criteria of environmental effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and political feasibility. Based on a literature review and selected stakeholder interviews in two Northern (The Netherland and UK) and two Southern EU Member States (Italy and Spain), we conclude that the current policy mix is far from optimal. There are currently no EU-wide policy instruments to address GHG emissions in the agri-food sector, and little Member State level action. A number of initiatives from the private sector (particularly retailers) are present, although they are limited in scope and objectives. Looking forward, three concrete recommendations for improvements may be identified. First, stakeholders identify the need for the development of EU-wide policy instrumentation for GHG abatement from the agri-food sector, to provide a ‘level playing field’ for farmers and other economic agents in the sector. Second, many stakeholders consider it crucial that a holistic, ‘whole supply chain’ in contrast to a ‘piecemeal’ approach is taken. Third, the role of government is considered important, but predominantly in terms of providing a general framework within which more ambitious voluntary approaches could develop. Policy relevance From a policy perspective, this article aims to assist the EU develop more ‘optimal’ climate policies for the agri-food sector by taking into account the views and perspectives of different stakeholders involved in different countries on three main ‘optimality’ criteria, namely, environmental effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and political feasibility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S72-S92
JournalClimate Policy
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • agricultural emissions
  • climate change policies
  • engagement
  • stakeholder participation

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