Timmermans: ‘You, students, have the solutions’

December 12, 2022

Euro commissioner Frans Timmermans called on Wageningen students to develop sustainable farming practices and protest on 7 December.

‘Our farming practices must change’, Timmermans stated. The Euro commissioner had been invited by Wageningen honours students to respond to three student discourses and questions from the audience. ‘We must move toward agriculture with less land and fewer fertilisers and pesticides. Society wants to tackle the climate crisis, but we also fear a sustainable future. With the war in Ukraine, fear of food shortages is increasing, and stakeholder groups aim to slow down the Farm to Fork strategy. Hence, we must develop a sustainable future in collaboration with the farmers. You, students, have the solution. Less food waste, for example, and high-tech precision agriculture that requires far fewer resources and less energy. That is what I expect from Wageningen.’

With his Farm to Fork strategy, Timmermans wants to change the entire food system, he explained. ‘For many years, our European agricultural policy has focused on sufficient affordable food. We must, however, change this system. Not just because of the climate and biodiversity crisis but because many farmers lack a decent income. We must transition towards a food system with a more equitable distribution of costs and revenues.’

The Euro commissioner also discussed the energy transition. At the beginning of this year, 40 per cent of our natural gas came from Russia. Now, that is only 10 per cent. We also save a lot of natural gas. In the EU, we want to rapidly transition towards renewable energy, but we cannot go entirely without fossil energy yet. We have sufficient natural gas reserves in Europe for this winter, but the next winter will be a challenge. The transition is moving forward rapidly. We have recyclable solar panels and wind turbines, and the Swedish steel industry is already powered by renewable energy.’

Timmermans called on students to protest and enter into politics. ‘The baby boomers, who are currently retired, take good care of themselves. If you want to halt climate change, you must get organised. Perhaps politics don’t appeal to you, but that attitude won’t change politics. We all live in social media bubbles. We feel uncomfortable with things and opinions we don’t like. However, democracy also means listening to, and debating with, people we disagree with. Go ahead and do that. Understand other people. Study abroad for a year. And follow your passion.’

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