Climate impact

Climate impact is one of the areas where the KRAV Standards are more stringent than the EU regulations for organic production. KRAV has a total of 37 standards that are good for the climate. For example, all KRAV-certified companies must use only electricity from renewable energy sources, and work to reduce their total need for fossil fuels.

Choosing KRAV-labelled organic food is a step towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as KRAV-certified companies actively work to reduce the climate impact.

Climate and energy are interconnected. For the sake of the climate we have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which to a great extent come from combustion of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and diesel. Reduced emissions can be achieved by using energy more efficiently and cleverly, or by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy, such as biogas, solar and wind generated energy.

KRAV has joined Fossil-free Sweden (http://fossilfritt-sverige.se/in-english/), a platform for collaboration between companies.

KRAV-certified companies are offered good deals on renewable electricity, help with energy efficiency, solar cell packages, and climate-smart LED lighting.

Some of KRAV’s Climate Standards for Energy Use

  • All transport or professional drivers who are permanently employed in a company and who drive more than 80 hours per year must be trained in fuel-efficient driving.
  • All KRAV-certified companies must buy 100% of their electricity from renewable energy sources.
  • Everyone should work to make energy consumption more efficient and to reduce use of fossil fuels, and be able to report on the measures taken.
  • Farmers and processors that consume more than 500,000 kWh/year must improve energy efficiency based on an energy survey done by an energy expert.
  • Only ozone and climate neutral refrigerants can be used on fishing vessels.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Agricultural Land

Agricultural land and animal husbandry, both conventional and KRAV-certified, contribute to emission of greenhouse gases that have a negative impact on the climate. Agricultural land emits greenhouse gases when used, something that can be influenced to some extent by how the land is managed. Areas of humus soil (soil in bogs and marshes) that are drained to be used as agricultural land have the highest emissions of greenhouse gases. Therefore, the KRAV Standards prohibit new cultivation of humus soil.

Artificial fertilizers cause large emissions of greenhouse gases, both during production and use, and large amounts of fossil fuels are used in the production. Most emissions of the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide come from fertilizers used in conventional agriculture.

Artificial fertilizers must not be used in KRAV-certified agriculture. Instead, KRAV farmers fertilize with organic material such as manure from, for example, cows or pigs, which is positive for both the climate and the cultivated soil. Manure provides nutrition for small animals and microorganisms that live in the soil, nutrients needed to keep the soil healthy and nutritious. The humus content is maintained or increased which means that the soil becomes fertile, can retain more water and nutrients and is more resistant to drought. In addition, these healthy soils can store climate-impacting carbon dioxide. This effect is reinforced by KRAV farmers with animals as they cultivate a lot of grazing land (grass and clover) that also binds carbon dioxide from the air.

Variation crop rotation reduce plant nutrient losses

Even manure emits greenhouse gases. The leakage of plant nutrients is about the same in KRAV-certified and conventional production, but excess nitrogen that can leak is less per hectare in a KRAV farmer’s field. For KRAV farmers, there are standards on variation of crop rotation and measures that can reduce plant nutrient losses and thus greenhouse gas emissions. For example, the soil can have a ground cover in the winter, manure can be stored covered and handled so that as few nutrients as possible leak out and is spread with the appropriate technology and at the appropriate time.

Some of KRAV’s Climate Standards for Agricultural Land

  • Cultivation of humus soils is prohibited due to large leakage of greenhouse gases.
  • Farmers should be careful with plant nutrients (manure) and have a fertilization plan for this in order to limit greenhouse gas emissions, amongst other things.
  • For each field, a farmer should have a varied crop rotation that includes legumes. The crop rotation must also include grazing land or green manure.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Livestock Production

An approximately equivalent amount of greenhouse gas emissions comes from the production of animal products such as meat, milk and eggs as from agricultural land. However, compared to greenhouse gas emissions from some other sectors of society, agriculture or cows are far from the worst for the climate (see below).

Climate facts

Greenhouse gas emissions in Sweden 2018, converted to carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2 equivalent)
From Sweden’s official statistics – National emissions and absorption of greenhouse gases – Swedish Environmental Protection Agency:

Swedish agriculture accounts for a total of 13% of Sweden’s greenhouse gas emissions. Domestic transport (road and domestic air traffic) emits more than twice as much greenhouse gases as agriculture, and foreign transport (including air traffic) emits almost twice as much as agriculture.

  • Agriculture: 6.8 million tonnes (= 13% of Sweden’s total emissions)
  • Domestic transport: 16.4 million tonnes
  • Foreign transport: 11.3 million tonnes

Three Short Reasons Why KRAV is Good for the Climate

  • KRAV-certified companies work to reduce their climate impact. KRAV has particular standards for the climate, for example, all companies must use renewable electricity.
  • Organic production is a tool to increase the humus content of soil and thus remove carbon dioxide from the air.
  • Organic food production is more robust and can withstand climate change better due to greater species diversity on the farm and increased humus content in cultivated soil.

Cows are not climate villains

Emissions of greenhouse gases from agricultural animals come mainly from cattle (dairy cows and meat animals). It is wrong however to describe cows as climate villains. Dairy cows and meat animals play an important role in ecological cycles on KRAV-certified farms and cows are favourable for the climate in several ways. Their manure results in good harvests and eliminate the need for imported artificial fertilizers produced with fossil fuels. The cultivation of grass and clover for cow fodder on grazing land can store carbon dioxide from the air and thus acts as a carbon sink.

It is clear: we should eat less meat, for the climate and for our health. When we buy meat though, we should buy good quality meat. KRAV-labelled organically produced meat is the most sustainable.

Some of the KRAV Climate Standards for Animals

  • Feed for the farm must be primarily grown on the farm.
  • The feed must be good quality and used optimally. Thus animals remain healthy and produce well, and inputs per kilo of milk/meat decrease, which means a reduced climate impact.