Today EU leaders have failed to address the urgent need for climate action, unable to agree on net-zero emissions by 2050. Instead Council conclusions aim for carbon neutrality “in line with the Paris Agreement” without including a timeframe.
Despite this disappointing outcome (due to the refusal of a small number of Member States), in order to avoid an irreversible climate crisis, action must be taken now to reduce emissions and increase the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that forests remove.
In order to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions as rapidly as possible, the EU needs to absorb more CO2 than it releases (known as negative emissions) - a contentious issue in climate circles. Forests store carbon during photosynthesis, turning it into wood that can be used to replace more polluting materials such as concrete and steel. Instead of supporting such industries, EU policies focus on the worst use of wood: burning it instead of fossil fuels, an action that still releases CO2 and decimates forests.
An economic, environmental and social win for governments would be to focus on restoring the health of our forests and lands. Environmental destruction means the EU economy loses around €55 billion every year in health costs and direct costs to the environment. Restoring existing forests, through financial investment, better management and enforcement of EU nature laws, offers a solution to the climate and biodiversity crises.
EU Forest of Hope: www.fern.org/EUforestsofHope