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EU Climate Law report remains dangerously vague on the role of ‘negative emissions’

10 junho 2020

EU Climate Law report remains dangerously vague on the role of ‘negative emissions’

Swedish S&D MEP Jytte Guteland presented her draft report on the EU Climate Law on 28 May 2020 (updated timetable below). It has positive features but there are concerns that it will allow industries to over-rely on carbon removals from land or technology (known as negative emissions) to achieve their targets.

The report proposes that the EU cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 65 per cent by 2030, reaches net-zero emissions by 2050 and removes more greenhouse gases than it emits immediately thereafter. It requests each sector to develop a roadmap to reduce emissions and offers improved criteria for Europe’s pathway to climate neutrality. 

Good:

The report has added IPBES as a key scientific source to assess the effectiveness of emission reduction plans. EU and Member State climate plans must also assess the “environmental costs of inaction”, including biodiversity loss. It would be transformative for climate legislation to take IPBES reports into account, as it underscores the crucial link between biodiversity and climate action.

Good, but insufficient: 

The report outlines the creation of sectoral roadmaps to ensure that all parts of the economy contribute to reducing emissions across Europe. This could help the land-use sector to promote increased carbon removals, but does not prevent other sectors’ reliance on bioenergy, Carbon Capture and Storage or both to delay real action.

Problematic:

No clear separation is made between objectives to remove carbon through sinks and the objective to halt emissions. If these objectives are not separated, industries could justify slow action to reduce emissions through the promise of uncertain future carbon removals. This is a real threat to the EU’s targets. In a public consultation about revising climate legislation to 2030, the Commission currently offers the misguided option of allowing sectors to buy more Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) offsets.

To preserve the integrity of emission reduction targets and prevent sector-specific plans from relying on forest offsets, it is necessary to clearly separate the carbon that could be absorbed, from the emissions that must be purposefully reduced. Kelsey Perlman, a Fern climate campaigner therefore calls for a separate target for carbon dioxide removal in her new blog

Fern considers that a separate target would also better link the EU’s climate agenda with the aims of the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy: it would provide an incentive for the protection and restoration of healthy ecosystems, thereby increasing the EU carbon sink. 

Climate Law revised calendar: 

  • Vote in the EP Environment Committee: 10 September 
  • Vote in the EP Plenary: 1 October 

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