- Carbon farming to deliver 50 million additional tonnes CO2 equivalent of net removals
- MEPs want sub-targets for cropland, grassland and wetlands both at EU and member state level
- GHG removals targets for 2035, 2040, 2045 and 2050 to be set by end 2024
MEP’s agree to increase the EU carbon sinks target for land use, land use change and forestry sector (LULUCF) which would de facto increase EU 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target to 57 %.
On Tuesday, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety adopted their report to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve natural carbon sinks in the land use, land use change and forestry sector (LULUCF) with 44 votes for, 37 against and 6 abstentions.
MEPs stress that the objective of enhancing removals by natural carbon sinks should be seen separately from the priority objective of rapidly and drastically reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from other sectors, including non-CO2 agricultural emissions.
Carbon sinks to increase EU 2030 GHG reduction target to 57 %
MEPs support the Commission’s proposal that the EU 2030 target for net greenhouse gas removals in the land, land use change and forestry sector should be at least 310 million tonnes CO2 equivalent. Such an increase would de facto raise the EU’s 2030 GHG reduction target to 57 %, as the contribution of net removals to the 2030 55 % GHG reduction target was limited to 225 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in the EU Climate Law as proposed by the European Parliament. It would also be beneficial in improving biodiversity and reforestation.
The Commission shall adopt annual targets for the LULUCF sector for each year in the period from 2026 to 2029 based on national trajectories. MEPs also want sub-targets for net greenhouse gas emissions from cropland, grassland and wetlands both at EU and member state level.
The proposed legislation also suggests a penalty for non-compliance by adding a 108% of the excess GHG net-removals to the following year’s quota.
Carbon farming to beef up removals target
The MEP’s emphasize that natural carbon sinks are fragile and volatile, and therefore should not be pooled with the measuring of emissions from the agricultural sector - contrary to the Commission’s proposal. Instead, MEPs want support to voluntary carbon farming initiatives to deliver at least 50 million additional tonnes CO2 equivalent of net removals by 2030.
Funding for farmers and forest owners
MEPs request the Commission to submit a report assessing the availability and consistency of all existing EU funding instruments available to increase climate action in the LULUCF sector in order to contribute to the targets. The increased level of ambition can create opportunities for new quality employment and provide incentives for relevant training, reskilling and upskilling.
Ensuring progress and post-2030 targets
To ensure that targets are being met, MEPs request the Commission to submit a progress report by 31 December 2024. If current trends and future projections are not consistent with the objective of achieving EU’s climate targets, it shall make proposals to ensure contributions by all sectors including agriculture.
By 1 January 2025, MEPs want the Commission to adopt a proposal to amend this Regulation to set out EU and member states targets for net GHG removals in land use, land use change and forestry at least for 2035, 2040, 2045 and 2050. In addition, MEP’s want the Commission to update the data used to measure how much carbon forests and soils are currently storing as well as their future storage potential.
After the committee vote, rapporteur, Ville Niinistö (Greens/EFA, FI), said: "The role of carbon sinks in the EU climate policy is now more important than ever in our pathway towards carbon neutrality. How we use land must be climate smart in order to tackle the climate crisis and this applies to agriculture, restoration of degraded lands and forest management as well. For example, restoring wetlands and bogs, afforestation and halting deforestation are ways to increase carbon sinks and increase biodiversity. Carbon farming has a big potential for the sustainable future of agriculture. With this report we encourage EU and its member states to step up and also supports incentives to farmers and forest owners to take action."
The report is scheduled for a vote at the plenary session 6-9 June after which Parliament will be ready to start negotiations with member states.