Amending the Regulation on greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry

In “A European Green Deal”

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As defined in the Commission Work Programme for 2021, the proposal for a revision of the regulation on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) was released as part of the Fit for 55 package on 14 July 2021. The package aims to deliver the 2030 target of the European Climate Law (see separate file). 

The revision proposal included an impact assessment. The existing LULUCF regulation was amended in the context of the 2030 climate and energy framework as proposed in 2014. The Regulation (EU) 2018/841 was published in the Official Journal on 19 June 2018 and entered into force on 9 July 2018.

First announced in the letter of intent accompanying the State of the Union speech of 16 September 2020, the importance of the LULUCF sector for climate action and the necessity of revision of the current regulation was also brought forward in the 2030 climate target plan of the European Commission from 17 September 2020 (see separate file). A public consultation closed in February 2021.

The Commission's proposal for a revised LULUCF regulation contained the following main updates:

  • Moving away from the 'no-debit' rule (where GHG emissions cannot exceed GHG removals within the sector) from 2026
  • Increasing the carbon sink potential to deliver GHG removals in the current decade
  • Reinforcement of Member States obligation to submit integrated mitigation plans for the land sector
  • Enhancing monitoring requirements using digital technologies supported by the European Environment Agency and the Copernicus programme
  • Alignment with other key biodiversity and bioenergy policy initiatives
  • Expanding the scope of the regulation to cover the whole land sector from 2031 by including non-CO2 emissions from the agriculture sector
  • Setting a value on mitigation actions by introducing a carbon removal certification scheme and possibility to trade in certificates.

The majority of changes will only take effect from the second compliance period from 2026-2030.

Key objectives of the proposal include:

  • Reversing the current trend of declining removals in the land sector
  • Delivering, by 2030, 310 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e) removals from the LULUCF sector
  • A climate-neutral land sector by 2035 (land sector defined as LULUCF sector combined with non-CO2 agricultural sector)
  • Simplification of reporting requirements for Member States
  • Ensuring land sector synergies by integration into climate and energy framework.

In the European Parliament, the proposal has been referred to the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI). Ville Niinistö (Verts/ALE, Finland) was appointed as rapporteur. On 14 July 2021, the ENVI Committee held an exchange of views on the on the Fit for 55 package with Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans. On 14 September 2021, the Fit for 55 package was debated in the European Parliament plenary session. ENVI adopted its report on 17 May 2022 for vote in the June I 2022 plenary session. The report agrees with a new reporting system starting 2026 and is aligned with the 310 MtCO2e removal target yet adding a new additional target of 50 MtCO2e removals through carbon farming initiatives. The idea to merge LULUCF with non-CO2 agricultural emissions from 2031 was rejected in committee.

The Parliament adopted the report during the June I 2022 plenary session with 472 votes in favour, 124 against and 22 abstentions. The additional carbon farming removal target was not carried forward. The file was referred back to the ENVI Committee with a mandate for trilogue negotiations.

In the Council, environment ministers held a first exchange on the Fit for 55 package at an informal meeting on 20 July 2021. The Council Working Party on the Environment has completed a preliminary first reading of the proposal following examinations over the course of four meetings during autumn. An overview of progress made on Fit for 55 files in various formations within the Council, was released on 22 November 2021. The progress file contains details also on the LULUCF file and points to the need for further technical work. On 7 April 2022, the Agriculture ministers discussed the LULUCF proposal and expressed its overall support, with concerns raised on topics such as impacts of natural disturbances and post-2030 LULUCF credit transfers as included in the effort-sharing proposal (see separate files).

Environment ministers adopted their general approach during their Council meeting on 28 June 2022. A first trilogue meeting took place on 5 September 2022. A provisional agreement was reached on 11 November 2022.

The provisional agreement cements the 310 MtCO2e removals from the LULUCF sector by 2030. From 2026 removals must exceed emissions within the sector and each member State will have a national obligation for the amount of removals to be delivered by 2030. Flexibilities will still exist between the Effort-sharing Regulation and LULUCF Regulation and Member States will be able to trade excess removals to underperforming Member States. A mechanism is further included to take into account natural disturbances greatly affecting a Member States' ability to deliver on the national target.

To ensure delivery the revision includes stricter reporting requirements, improved transparency and a review by 2025. During the period 2026-2029 Member States can be penalised by an additional 8 % on their national 2030 removal target, if the reporting shows insufficient progress towards their national targets.

The provisional agreement text was voted by COREPER on 21 December 2022 and subsequently by the ENVI committee during its meeting of 16 January 2023.

On 14 March 2023, the European Parliament adopted with 479 votes to 97 and 43 abstentions the revision of the LULUCF Regulation.

The Council adopted the file on 28 March and the signing ceremony took place on 19 April 2023. The Regulation was published in the EU Official Journal on 21 April 2023.


Further reading

Author: Liselotte Jensen, Members' Research Service,

Visit the European Parliament pages on climate change.

As of 20/05/2023.