Optimal design of climate change policies through the EU's rural development policy: Final Report

John Tzilivakis, Kathleen Lewis, Andrew Green, Douglas Warner, W. Fialkiewicz, Dorota Olearczyk, Charlotte Bordet, Brigitte Langevin

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


In 2013 the current Rural Development Programme (RDP) comes to an end and consequently consultations have been initiated to develop the programme post-2013. This presents an opportunity to develop more holistic RDP measures and operations that not only tackle rural issues, but also address the climate change objectives of mitigation and adaptation. In response to this opportunity, the European Commission (DG CLIMA) commissioned a study on "Optimal design of climate change policies through the EU's rural development policy" (Project ref. 071201/2011/609681/SER/CLIMA.A.2) which is also known as OSCAR: Optimal Strategies for Climate change Action in Rural areas. The work was undertaken by the Agriculture and Environment Research Unit (AERU) at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK, in collaboration with Solagro in France and Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences in Poland. The work started on 21 December 2011 and finished on 21 December 2012. The aim of the project was to develop guidance for Member States to support the development of RDP measures that optimally address climate change objectives post-2013.Presented herein is the final report for the OSCAR project. This report provides a comprehensive description of the approach taken, methods employed, data utilised and the outputs that have emerged. This report has an accompanying appendices document, containing appendices A to M, which contain much of technical details. The work involved a number of key tasks including:·The development of the conceptual framework to assess the climate change impacts of rural development measures and operations. This included a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) based approach to assessing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and carbon sequestration, the development of a completely new technique to assess the impacts on the adaptive capacity of ecosystem services, known as an Adaptive Capacity Impact Assessment (ACIA), and a Production Impact Assessment (PIA) to account for impacts on land use enterprises.·The use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and associated spatial data for the EU-27, to define spatial variations in GHG emissions, carbon sequestration, risks to the adaptive capacity of ecosystem services, and productive capability for different crop and livestock enterprises.·A review of existing and potential future RDP measures and operations – a list of 2600 RDP operations were generated from a review of member state documents, and these were rationalised down to 130 for which climate change benefits were quantified.·Three case studies in regions within France, Poland and United Kingdom, in which the potential impact of selected RDP operations where explored on a site specific basis. This included calculating economic and productivity impacts, and identifying practicality issues.·The development of a manual and checklist to facilitate the development of RDPs by managing authorities to optimally address climate change objectives within their programmes and regions. The checklist consists of 6 steps:1.Defining spatial boundaries; 2.Identifying issues and areas of concern; 3.Selecting RDP measures and operations; 4.Evaluating climate change impact; 5.Determining cost effectiveness; 6.Interpretation of results·The development of computer software to support the steps outlined in the manual. This includes tools to:-Identify of hotspots within a region with respect to GHG emissions and adaptation.-Calculate and assess impacts on Mitigation (GHG emissions and carbon sequestration), Adaptation (adaptive capacity of ecosystem services) and Productivity (agricultural and land use production) by RDP operations within specific regions. This includes calculating net GHG emissions over different time horizons (1 to 250 years) in order to highlight the time period required to realise net benefits (or burdens), which can be particularly important for carbon sequestration impacts.-Compare selected RDP measures and operations with respect to mitigation, adaptation and production performance within a specified region. The performance of the operations can be ranked using the Mitigation, Adaptation and Productivity (MAP) criteria, thus providing a means for optimisation (e.g. identifying those operations in a region which have potential benefits for mitigation, adaptation and production and/or identifying those where there are trade-offs between the MAP criteria).-Assess the cost-benefit of RDP measures and operations, including the production of Marginal Abatement Cost (MAC) curves for mitigation and marginal adaptation costs curves for adaptation. MAC curves can be derived rapidly using data from the Production Impact Assessment (PID) or users can input economic data for each operation in their region should such data be available.-The manual and software have been presented to managing authorities in France, Poland and the UK and to delegates at a workshop held in Brussels on the 22 November 2012.There is little doubt this was an ambitious project to undertake in a relative short period of time. A substantial amount of data on GHGs from RDP operations has been collated and generated, a new metric for the impact on adaptive capacity has been created, significant GIS work has been undertaken to generate regional variations in data, a manual has been written, software has been developed, case studies in France, Poland and the UK have been undertaken and a workshop was held.Feedback on the outputs from the project has been generally positive. The creation of the manual provides a flexible step by step process to follow, to enable users to integrated climate change objectives into their RDPs and the provision of the software facilitates these steps by handling much of the complex data and assessment processes. However, it should be remembered that although the outputs from the project have undergone data integrity checks, they are prototypes and relatively untested, thus an appropriate 'health warning' should be taken into account for any future use and application. In relation to this there is scope for further development and refinement, including the addition of more bespoke RDP operations that could have climate change benefits. Ideally, the OSCAR tools need to be directly tested and applied over a period of months by managing authorities to determine their strengths and weaknesses. In so doing this will ensure that any future developments are driven by the demands and requirements of end users. The OSCAR tools will remain available on the project website after completion of the project. Therefore there is scope for users to have access to the tools and provide feedback. However, any work to develop the tools and/or add more data would need to be properly funded, to ensure the evolution of robust and credible tools and services that support the formulation of rural development programmes that optimally address climate change objectives.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherEuropean Commission
Commissioning bodyEuropean Commission (EC) Directorate General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA)
Number of pages471
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2013


  • rural
  • climate change
  • agriculture
  • greenhouse gas emissions
  • adaptation
  • policy
  • ecosystem services


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