On the basis of the indicative decarbonization pathway for the agricultural sector of the French National Low-Carbon Strategy, two food system scenarios were developed, both of which achieve the same decarbonization objectives, but via contrasting pathways in terms of both socio-political aspects and the evolution of the economic strategies of the players within the sectors. By comparing these two scenarios, it is possible to assess their quantitative implications (in terms of employment and income) and to identify the socio-political conditions for a just transition.
- A scenario that focuses exclusively on climate issues, without questioning the concentration/ specialisation processes underway at the production level, would have significant socio-economic impacts: an increase in the rate of farm closures and associated job losses (-9% compared to current trend), and job losses in the agri-food sector (-12% compared to 2015), without any substantial improvement in the quality of food or biodiversity.
- A multifunctional scenario (climate, biodiversity, health, employment) could generate multiple benefits: maintaining agricultural jobs (+10% compared to current trend) without a loss of income; increasing jobs in the agri-food sector (+8% compared to 2015); and contributing to the restoration of agro-biodiversity and the development of a range of food products more in line with government nutritional guidelines.
- The economic viability of such a scenario is based on the simultaneous evolution of supply, demand and market organisation, implying major policy changes:
- a proactive approach to demand at the national level, in contrast to the current reluctance on the subject, mobilising a wide range of tools and making the healthiest and most sustainable choice the most obvious one for consumers;
- a convergence of visions between European Union member states, to ensure the implementation of national strategic plans in the context of the Common Agricultural Policy sets comparable objectives and production conditions for producers;
- an ambitious approach to international trade to foster and accompany the adoption of ambitious production standards.
- The conclusions drawn from the analysis of the two sectors need to be confirmed by extending them to all EU agricultural sectors and countries; where agricultural income is concerned, the methodology needs to be further developed.