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Special Issue "Regulatory Innovations for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Agriculture and Food"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Sustainability and Applications".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 25 September 2023 | Viewed by 1171

Special Issue Editors

Tilburg Law School, Tilburg University, 5037 AB Tilburg, The Netherlands
Interests: climate change mitigation and adaptation; greenhouse gas emissions trading; climate litigation; coastal adaptation; climate engineering; climate change and armed conflicts; climate change and biodiversity; carbon farming; climate change and food security; environmental justice; human rights and the environment; the anthropocene; nature conservation law (especially EU Wild Birds and Habitats Directives; Wetlands Convention); the precautionary principle; codification of environmental law; globalisation and the environment; corporate social responsibility and environmental law; the role of civil society in sustainable development law; transboundary cooperation.
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Tilburg Law School, Tilburg University, 5037 AB Tilburg, The Netherlands
Interests: European environmental law, with a specific interest in the relationship between science, technology and environmental law
Tilburg Law School, Tilburg University, 5037 AB Tilburg, The Netherlands
Interests: governance; international law regulation; banking law; central banks; comparative law; developing countries; legal pluralism; complexity; democratic governance

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The food system currently accounts for between 21 and 37% of all GHG emissions (IPCC, Special Report Climate Change and Land, 476), and agriculture is thought to be responsible for 80% of the biodiversity loss of the planet (Campbell et al. (2017), Ecology and Society 22(4) 8). The agricultural and food sectors are on the brink of a profound transition towards more sustainable food production, with a sharp focus on reducing the sector’s carbon footprint. Around the world, policies are being developed to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions from agricultural activities such as livestock keeping, to increase the carbon uptake of agricultural soils, and, more generally, to stimulate the adoption of more sustainable agricultural practices such as agro-forestry and organic farming. The European Union’s Green Deal and the associated Farm to Fork Strategy are examples of such new policies. While this uptake is encouraging, the limited time frame to achieve this transition and meet the Paris Agreement goals poses immense and daunting challenges that will be difficult to overcome. First, one must consider how changing climate and market conditions are making the agricultural and food sectors increasingly volatile and difficult spaces for regulatory innovation. Second, finding the right legal and policy instruments to achieve the required transition in an effective and efficient way is a complex endeavor. The EU is currently primarily using its extensive system of agricultural subsidies under its Common Agricultural Policy to stimulate farmers to reduce emissions, but its lackluster results to date suggest that more drastic instruments are needed as well. A few countries have incorporated their agricultural emissions into domestic emissions trading systems, for instance, through allowing mitigating farming practices and technological innovations to offset emissions elsewhere in the economy. Others have focused on the demand side, such as by imposing a carbon tax on agricultural products such as meat. Questions abound on the appropriate and desirable design of such instruments, as well as on their implementation and compliance with them. Should instruments aim to regulate individual farmers or should they focus on key sectoral players, such as the meat industry or supermarkets, or both? How can or should agricultural emissions be best brought under emissions trading systems, either directly requiring (certain) farmers to render allowances for their emissions, or through encouraging them to develop GHG emission reduction projects as offsets to sell to other emitters? What combined impact should we expect of such instruments that are aimed at these and other stakeholders in the food supply chain? What policy mixes render optimal results?

This Special Issue welcomes original research papers that explore effective and efficient policy interventions aimed at achieving greenhouse gas emission reductions in agriculture. We look forward to receiving your contributions from the various fields involved, such as law and policy, economics, governance, and other social sciences.

Prof. Dr. Jonathan Verschuuren
Dr. Floor Fleurke
Prof. Dr. Michael Leach
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (1 paper)

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The Future of Farming: The (Non)-Sense of Big Data Predictive Tools for Sustainable EU Agriculture
Sustainability 2022, 14(20), 12968; - 11 Oct 2022
Viewed by 744
The agricultural sector is one of the key sectors that need to be transformed in order to mitigate climate change. The use of predictive models supported by big data (“big data predictive tools”) has already been named in the literature as one key [...] Read more.
The agricultural sector is one of the key sectors that need to be transformed in order to mitigate climate change. The use of predictive models supported by big data (“big data predictive tools”) has already been named in the literature as one key possibility to facilitate this change. This contribution maps out the possibilities and potential harms of big data predictive tools for sustainable agricultural use and analyses the role that regulation can play to address these challenges, answering the following question: how can the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the European Green Deal address potential harms of big data predictive tools for sustainable agriculture while safeguarding its possibilities. Based on a combination of doctrinal legal research and a review of secondary sources, this contribution concludes that in theory, both instruments recognize the possibilities of big data predictive tools for agriculture and emphasize the necessity of environmental sustainability in this regard. However, some of the most promising and essential elements of achieving sustainable digitalisation in agriculture, risk not being substantiated because of a watered-down CAP, significant focus on larger farms and strong member state margin of appreciation. Although at first sight the CAP and Green Deal seem aligned, it can be concluded that the depth has yet to be proven. Whether this depth can be substantiated will also determine the extent to which digital technologies, such as big data predictive tools, will help in enforcing a sustainable agriculture or risk intensifying unsustainable practices in the EU. Full article
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