The EU will raise its objective of absorbing CO2 emissions in forests


The Advice European and the European Parliament have reached a provisional political agreement to increase target of the absorption block carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) by forests and other natural sinks.

By virtue of this agreement reached last morning, the EU’s objective for 2030 for the net greenhouse gas (GHG) removal in that sector it will be established at 310 million tons of CO2 equivalent, which is around 15% more than at present, the Council and Parliament reported in separate communiqués, which will have to formally approve the agreement before the new law can come into force.

The goal of regulations on land use, land-use change and forestry is to progressively increase removals and reduce emissions to reach the EU-wide target. “The agreement will contribute to better protection and management of land and forests across the EU and will fully exploit the potential for emission removals,” said the Czech Environment Minister, Marian Jureckawhose country holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU.

“Now we have a more ambitious goal and safeguards, such as better data and stricter reporting requirements, more transparency and a review by 2025,” added the negotiator for the European Parliament, the Finn Ville Niinistö. The MEP stressed that, “for the first time, this legislation considers biodiversity and the climate crisis together and member states must also take into account the principle of not causing significant harm”.

Under the provisional agreement, the current rules under which emissions do not exceed removals (the “no debit rule”) will continue to apply until 2025, while for the period 2026-2030, in which removals must exceed emissions, each member state will have a binding linear target for 2030.

It’s about the third legislative part of the “Fit for 55” package to decarbonise the EU by 2050 which is approved, after the agreement reached two days ago on stricter emission reduction targets for member states in national maritime and road transport, buildings, agriculture, waste and small industries and the one reached at the end of October to ban the sale of new cars and vans with a combustion engine from 2035.

With this revision of the Regulation on land use, land-use change and the forestry sector, the EU’s greenhouse gas reduction target for 2030 is raised to 57%. Thus, in addition to the national objectives for 2030, this latest agreement establishes a commitment for each member state to reach a sum of net emissions and removals of greenhouse gases for the entire period from 2026 to 2029 (‘the 2026-2029 budget’ ). The budget will be based on a trajectory of indicative annual values ​​of absorptions and emissions.

Another novelty of the agreement is that maintains the possibility of buying and selling removal units between member states and use surplus annual emissions allocations under the effort-sharing regulation to meet targets. Also, it maintains a overall flexibility to support those member states that have difficulty meeting their targets due to natural causes (such as forest fires, pests, and the effects of climate change and organic soils on emissions), provided that the Union as a whole meets its 2030 target .

On the other hand, the pact tightens the criteria for evaluating whether the objective is being met at EU level and, consequently, whether the flexibility mechanism can be used, but up to a fixed limit, provided that, among other conditions, they present evidence to the Commission following a well-defined methodology.

The agreement also introduces a governance mechanism in the Regulation, including the measures to be taken if a member state does not meet its national objective in the second period. The Commission will present a report within six months after the first global stocktake under the Paris Agreement (to be carried out in 2023), on the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions other than CO2 from agriculture in the scope of regulation and setting targets for the land use sector beyond 2030.


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