Curbing CO2 from forests
ENVI MEPs backed measures to cut greenhouse-gas emissions from woodlands
Maria Koleva, Brussels
14 July, 2017
As forests have an immense potential for alleviation of climate change, at their sitting last Tuesday the Environment committee (ENVI) MEPs backed with huge majority measures to cut greenhouse-gas emissions and raise absorptions from woodlands.
Fostering the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the proposed regulation foresees emissions generated by agriculture and forestry to be compensated by an equivalent removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. Countries that are felling forests should compensate the turned out emissions by planting new trees or by improving the management of existing forests, croplands and grasslands, ENVI MEPs said.
Forests make up over 42% of the EU land surface, but the demand from industry for timber is increasing and this puts pressure on the ecosystem. Farming is also faced with a mounting demand for food and feed and together with forestry is highly exposed to climate change.
The rapporteur on the file, German EPP MEP Norbert Lins, stated that “agriculture and forestry have a very positive overall climate balance and additionally still a huge potential and we should better appreciate this great contribution to the achievement of our climate goals.” He also added that forests need to be managed in a sustainable and active way providing timber and climate change mitigation.
According to the proposed legislation, as from 2030, EU countries should raise CO2 absorption to exceed emissions, which is in line with the EU’s long-term targets and the Paris climate deal. Extra removals of CO2 from land use for the first 5-year term will be transferred to credits that can be saved for later use during the second 5-year term, or to abide emission reduction targets under the Effort Sharing Regulation.
Timber for construction needs or for production of furniture can be accounted as removing CO2 as they isolate carbon absorbed by trees during their growth. MEPs also said that the cap on the use of forest credits would be increased from 3.5%, as the Commission suggested, to 7% to allow extra credits.
Concerning the emission reporting, MEPs suggested that the EU states do it every year and the goal is balancing the emissions and removals to be met in two terms for 2021-25 and for 2026-2030. If a country fails to reach the goal in either term, the deficit will be deducted from its allocation under the Effort Sharing Regulation.
This draft legislation will be voted by the chamber during the September plenary session in Strasbourg and then the talks with national government on the subject can start.