Last Friday, the European Commission welcomed a provisional deal on the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) regulation, reached with the European Parliament and Council – increasing the EU’s target for net carbon removals by natural sinks to 310 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030. According to the press release, this agreement sets ‘ambitious and fair targets’ for each Member State to reverse the decreasing trend of the EU’s carbon sink.
Following the provisional Effort Sharing Regulation deal agreed upon last week, the latest legislative developments, part of the Fit for 55 package, continue to build momentum towards delivering the flagship European Green Deal.
“Nature is our greatest ally in the fight against the climate and biodiversity crises. It shields us from climate extremes and absorbs carbon. Right now, Europe’s nature is struggling and our carbon sinks are shrinking. By setting a higher target for carbon removals through nature and ensuring more accurate monitoring, our new regulation on land use and forests helps to redress that situation and puts the European carbon sink on a path to growth again”, said Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal. “It’s a key requirement to meet our net zero targets and even opens the door to a higher climate target in the near future. This agreement is therefore a crucial step in delivering our promise to become climate neutral by 2050”.
How will the new regulation impact Member States?
Member States will be responsible for protecting and expanding their carbon sinks to meet the new EU target. Member States have many measures at hand to improve their land management, including sustainable forest management or the rewetting of peatlands and should update their strategic plans under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to reflect the higher ambition for the land sector. EU funds like the LIFE programme offer financial support for climate action in agriculture and forestry.
The agreement simplifies the existing rules and enhances the quality of monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions and removals, using more accurate and precise data monitoring such as geographical data and remote sensing. From 2021 to 2025 the targets stay closely aligned with the current LULUCF Regulation, with its so-called no-debit commitment to maintaining the current carbon sink levels. In a second phase from 2026 to 2030, the EU’s net removal target will increase to 310 Mt of CO2 equivalent, which will put the Union on track towards climate neutrality in 2050. Each Member State will contribute a fair share with the target distributed among them based on recent levels of removals or emissions and the potential to further increase removals.
The provisional agreement now requires formal adoption by the Parliament and the Council. Once this process is completed, the new legislation will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and enter into force.