The European Parliament’s environment committee backed a proposal tabled by the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Group for a robust and scientifically-based accounting system for greenhouse-gas emissions and removals due to changes in land use.
The proposal is aimed at ensuring that all sectors contribute to the overall EU emissions-reduction target.
The accounting system will reflect the actual activities of European Union member states, including emissions from bioenergy use.
“Through the growth of trees, forests take in more carbon than they emit,” said Paul Brannen, S&D MEP and spokesperson on emissions and removals from land and forests. “Forests are a significant global carbon stock. EU forests absorb 10% of all EU greenhouse-gas emissions every year. Forest management can play a crucial role in combatting climate change – if it is done right. This is why it is so important that forest management must be accounted for in a more transparent way.”
According to Brannen, the current accounting rules can even be counter-productive, giving countries credits when they are really reducing the CO2-absorption capacity of their forests.
“Forest mitigation should be measured using a scientifically objective approach, not allowing countries to hide the impacts of policies that increase emissions,” he explained. “In a spirit of a compromise we agreed on a slightly less ambitious system, based on the forest management practice and intensity of 2000-2012 period. Current emissions will be compared to the clear benchmark, the 2000-2012 period, and a transparent system of debits and credits will be set up.”
The new rules need to be adopted in a vote by the plenary of the European Parliament.
Until now, the emission or removal of greenhouse gases caused by changes in land use have not been included in the EU climate targets.