Legislative proposal on a Union certification framework for carbon removals.

In “A European Green Deal”

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In the letter of intent accompanying the State of the Union 2021, the Commission announced key new initiatives for 2022. One of these initiatives is a legislative proposal on carbon removal certification, as part of the European Green Deal.

On 19 October the European Commission adopted its work programme for 2022 which included a legislative proposal for carbon removal certification in the final quarter (Q4) of 2022. The need to scale up sustainable carbon removals in view of climate targets drive the proposal, which according to the Commission aim to deliver a common EU standard and a reliable certification framework with high environmental integrity.

On 15 December 2021, the Commission adopted the communication on sustainable carbon cycles, which addresses the need for a regulatory framework for the certification of carbon removals.

The Commission launched a call for evidence on 7 February 2022, to further inform the process towards adoption of such a framework within the EU. The public consultation took place simultaneously and both processes closed on 2 May 2022.

The idea of a carbon removal certification scheme was first mentioned by the Commission in the 2020 New Circular Economy Action Plan (see separate file). In the LULUCF revision proposal (see separate file), carbon removal certification is proposed as a potential preamble to establishing a carbon trading system for land sector removals, from 2030.

In Parliament, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) is preparing an own-initiative resolution (2022/2053(INI)) on the topic of sustainable carbon cycles. The draft report by rapporteur MEP Alexander Bernhuber (EPP, Austria) was presented during the committee meeting on 11 July 2022.

The 7 April 2022 Council conclusions regarding carbon farming note the need for a flexible yet administratively lean scheme to consider Member States differences. Council invited the Commission to explore a wider range of practices relevant to agricultural greenhouse gas emissions at farm level as well as the economic value of associated co-benefits, such as biodiversity gains. 

The legislative proposal was adopted by the Commission on 30 November 2022 and was accompanied by an impact assessment.

The Commission proposes a Regulation to establish a Union certification framework for carbon removals. The regulation would aim to facilitate the deployment of high quality carbon removals. Certification would be based on four overarching criteria for which detailed methodologies will be developed for different carbon removal activities. The criteria are: 1) Quantification, 2) Additionality and baselines, 3) Long-term storage, and 4) Sustainability for which the Commission uses the acronym QU.A.L.ITY.

The Commission would be responsible for recognising certification schemes which comply with the Union Framework critieria through Commission decisions. Schemes would further have requirements regarding transparency into their day-to-day operation, should ensure independent verification of carbon removals and full disclosure of all information related to certified carbon removals.

Carbon removals would only be eligible under the Union Framework if they apply the QU.A.L.ITY criteria under the relevant methodology depending on the carbon removal activity and are independently verified by a certification body. Certification is voluntary.

An expert Group on Carbon Removals would assist the Commission in developing the technical certification methodologies to be implemented through delegated acts. Annex 1 of the proposal lists elements to be included in the methodologies put forward through delegated acts.

A two-step procedure is presented to be followed by the certification body in order to register final carbon removal certificates and minimum competence conditions for  auditors are set out. Certification schemes under the Union framework must provide public registries based on automated and interoperable systems. Member States would be obligated to supervise the operation of nationally registered certification bodies.

A review of the regilation is proposed three years after entry into force and no later than 2028, and subsequently after each stocktake exercise under the Paris agreement.

A rapporteur is yet to be appointed by the European Parliament.

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Further reading:

Author: Liselotte Jensen, Members' Research Service, legislative-train@europarl.europa.eu

Visit the European Parliament pages on climate change.

As of 15/12/2022.