Today the European Commission released its proposal for integrating emissions from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) into the EU’s 2030 climate and energy package. The Commission’s proposal will allow member countries to emit more greenhouse gases.
The European Commission proposal would allow some EU countries to use emissions cuts from LULUCF to help meet 2030 targets.
In a press release, Hannah Mowat, Forest and Climate campaigner at Fern, says,
“Forests and land in the EU currently absorb more carbon than they emit, which is a good thing. But using this as an excuse to emit more greenhouse gases sends the wrong message. Our carbon budget is rapidly diminishing – we already know we need to go below zero emissions in the medium term. That is where forests can potentially help us; not in delaying the path to zero, as the Commission’s proposal suggests.”
In its press release about the European Commission’s decision, Birdlife International raises the concern that the LULUCF proposal “creates a new impetus for unsustainable use of land in the name of climate change mitigation by strongly incentivizing afforestation without any environmental safeguards.”
Birdlife International points out that “afforestation” often means “intensively managed non-native monoculture plantations”.
FERN released a video in June 2016, explaining why LULUCF matters: “If the European Union decides to mix measuring carbon from forests and land with carbon from burning of fossil fuels, it could be disastrous, leading to less CO2 emissions being reduced overall and doing nothing to protect the forest.”
On 18 July 2016, a group of 11 NGOs, including Fern, WWF European Policy Office, Oxfam International, and Climate Action Network Europe, signed a letter urging the Commission to promote carbon removals from forest and land use in addition to (and not replacing) emission reductions in agriculture, waste, buildings etc:
Carbon removals from forests and land use should be promoted in addition to (and not replacing) emission reductions in the existing ESD [Effort Sharing Decision] sectors. In this way, forests and land will be crucial in helping the EU go ‘below zero’ as most IPCC scenarios show is needed. It is crucial that forests are not used to delay action. Of particular concern are the accounting rules for forest management, which arenotoriously complex and are already leading to hundreds of millions of windfall credits in the current period. Including these credits into the EU’s new instrument would leave the EU wide open to criticism and risks overshadowing the EU’s package as a whole.
Here’s is FERN’s press release about the European Commission’s forest proposal:
Contact: Hannah Mowat, Forest and Climate, Fern firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: +32 4 85 025 432
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
European Commission’s forest proposal weakens Paris climate commitment
BRUSSELS, 20 July: The European Union’s fight against climate change has been undermined by new proposals for tackling emissions from land and forests. The proposals outlined today by the European Commission for integrating emissions from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) into its climate and energy package, will allow Member States to emit more, bringing the EU’s headline ‘at least 40 per cent’ reduction target down to less than 39 per cent, when all loopholes are accounted for. “Forests and land in the EU currently absorb more carbon than they emit, which is a good thing. But using this as an excuse to emit more greenhouse gases sends the wrong message,” says Hannah Mowat, Forest and Climate campaigner at Fern, the forest and rights organization.
“Our carbon budget is rapidly diminishing – we already know we need to go below zero emissions in the medium term. That is where forests can potentially help us; not in delaying the path to zero, as the Commission’s proposal suggests.
“The European Commission has missed an opportunity to embrace the role that forests and land can, and must, play to honour the commitments made in Paris and limit warming to 1.5 degrees. Work must now begin on making the new LULUCF pillar into a powerful instrument with high environmental integrity to ensure that forests and land are part of the climate solution, not part of the problem.”
Fern will be doing a rapid analysis of the proposal and the implications on EU climate, forest and energy policy. Do get in touch with us if you would like to receive this analysis. The ESD proposal is available here and the LULUCF proposal is available here.
Fern is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and a Dutch Stichting created in 1995 to make the EU work for forests and people. Our work centres on forests and forest peoples’ rights and the issues that affect them such as EU consumption, trade, investment and climate change. All of our work is done in close collaboration with social and environmental organisations and movements across the world.
 280 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from LULUCF and 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the Emissions
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