European Parliamentarians support plans to cut greenhouse-gas emissions and boost absorptions from forests, as an alternative to tackling climate change on Tuesday’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) meeting in Brussels.
According to what the MEPs of ENVI Committee approved, EU member states that cut down forests must compensate the resulting emissions by new planting or by improved management of existing forests, croplands and grasslands, to ensure an equivalent absorption of CO2in the atmosphere.
Norbert Lins (EPP, DE) lead MEP said on the decision: “It is all about the right balance. I don’t want to put forests in a glass case! Forests need to be managed in a sustainable and active way providing timber and climate change mitigation”.
This compensation will assist the EU to keep greenhouse gasses (GHG) low, as European forests absorb nearly 10% of the emissions. MEPs reinforced the legislative framework by adding that form 2030, EU member states should boost CO2 absorption to exceed emission, to keep targets in line with the EU’s long-term objectives and the Paris Agreement emission goals. “Europe is a climate front-runner and a model for other Parties to the Paris Agreement starting to implement a similar accounting system,” added MEP Line.
The benchmarks for each EU member state are expected to be set on the basis of a “forest reference level”, as an estimate of the average annual net emissions or absorption resulting from managed forest land within each member state’s territory and will be based on documented management practices between 2000 and 2012.
Perks for extra CO2 removals
According to the framework debated in the ENVI Committee, if the absorption of CO2 is greater than the emissions from land use for the first 5-year period, the member state can keep this “emission credit” and use it the following five-year period, so that goals van be reached. Forest fires and other factors can be excluded from the calculation of targets.
Construction material, furniture and other harvested wood products, may also be accounted as removing CO2 as they isolate carbon absorbed by trees during their growth, in order to encourage member states to develop the use of harvested wood products and CO2 absorption by deadwood. The European Commission has set a cap on the use forest credits at 3.5%, but the European Parliament proposes the doubling of this credit in order to allow additional credits more member states.
If a member state fails to reach emission goals according to the annual reports that the framework foresees, the shortfall will be deducted from their allocation under the Effort Sharing Regulation, that sets annual national GHG emission limits for the period 2013-2020.