EU Taxonomy: Better no Delegated Act than a greenwashed one

Posted on March, 08 2023

Today, a coalition of 25 environmental NGOs has sent a letter to the European Commission urging it not to produce a Taxonomy Delegated Act on agriculture unless it closely follows the advice of its expert group, the Platform on Sustainable Finance. Given the growing scientific evidence on the harmful environmental impacts of intensive agriculture, the NGO coalition believes that no Delegated Act would be better than one that greenwashes destructive practices. This call comes after the Commission's controversial decision to label gas-fired power and nuclear energy as sustainable in the Taxonomy, the EU’s green investments guidebook. 

"It is vital that the Taxonomy Delegated Act does not recognise industrial livestock production as an environmentally sustainable activity," said Sebastien Godinot, Senior Economist at the WWF European Policy Office.“The Commission must either align with the overwhelming scientific evidence that intensive agriculture harms the environment or not act at all. Having no Delegated Act on agriculture is better than having a greenwashed one”. 

Industrial livestock farming has significant negative effects on the environment, in and around the farm, and through the intensive production of cereals, such as wheat, maize, barley, and oats, which is necessary to feed the animals. According to the European Commission, almost two-thirds of cereals produced in the EU are used as animal feed. Growing these crops often involves intensive monoculture farming - which means growing a single crop on the same land year after year with the abundant use of pesticides and fertilizers. This can lead to soil degradation, loss of biodiversity, overuse and pollution of water, and air pollution, which all harm the environment and undermine three of the Taxonomy Regulation's environmental objectives - biodiversity, freshwater, and pollution prevention and control.

In addition, industrial livestock production does significant harm to the Taxonomy Regulation's climate objectives. As echoed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), producing animal-sourced food, like meat and dairy, emits a larger amount of greenhouse emissions than growing crops, especially in intensive industrial livestock systems. 

However, falsely labelling industrial livestock as sustainable will not only undermine the credibility of the EU Taxonomy even further and weaken its ability to drive positive change: it would boost financing for activities that will hinder the EU’s ability to reach its own climate and environmental goals. WWF stands ready to publicly oppose any Delegated Act that greenwashes the industrial livestock sector and is prepared to explore, with other organisations, every appropriate action to challenge it. 


Ines Abbas,
Communications Officer,
WWF European Policy Office
+32 488 99 27 65  
Intensive farming is not green
© Sebastian Kurpiel