LULUCF: The new Proposal for Regulation
On 20 July 2016, the European Commission published new legislative proposals aiming at binding annual greenhouse gas emissions targets for Member States from 2021-2030 for the transport, buildings, agriculture, waste, land-use and forestry sectors as contributors to EU climate action.
In particular, the package is composed of the following new legislative proposals:
- Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on binding annual greenhouse gas emission reductions by Member States from 2021 to 2030 for a resilient Energy Union and to meet commitments under the Paris Agreement and amending Regulation No 525/2013 of the European Parliament and the Council on a mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and other information relevant to climate change.
- Proposal for a REGULATION of the European Parliament and of the Council on the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry into the 2030 climate and energy framework and amending Regulation No 525/2013 of the European Parliament and the Council on a mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and other information relevant to climate change.
- Communication from the commission to the European Parliament, the council, the European economic and social committee and the committee of the regions a European strategy for low-emission mobility.
According to the new package, Member States will have national emission targets for 2030 expressed as a percentage reduction from 2005 emission levels as well as access to new flexibilities to achieve those targets cost effectively. Collectively, these national targets will give an overall EU reduction of 30% in the sectors covered by the proposal. The 2030 targets range from 0% (Bulgaria) to -40% (Sweden) compared to 2005 levels.
As previously anticipated by the EU Commission, carbon offsetting from the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector will be included under the ESD. The carbon offsetting via LULUCF will be capped at 280 million tonnes CO2-equivalent (Mt CO2-eq) across the EU for the 2021-2030 period, with individual limits set at national level.
According to the EU Commission, the new proposal for a Regulation “on the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry into the 2030 climate and energy framework” will support foresters and forest-based industries through greater visibility for the climate benefits of wood products which have a longer life-time and which store carbon from the atmosphere for long periods. Moreover, it will provide a framework for Member States to incentivise more climate-friendly land use.
During the press conference held on 20 July, the EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete was questioned on the effectiveness of the new package proposal considering that UK will leave the EU following the Brexit vote in June. Mr Cañete replied: “Let’s be very clear, from a legal point of view, the outcome of the referendum has changed nothing as UK remains a member state with all the rights and obligations.”
Harvested wood products: As stated in Article 9 of the new Proposal for a Regulation, “Member States shall reflect emissions and removals resulting from changes in the pool of harvested wood products falling within the following categories using the first order decay function, the methodologies and the default half-life values specified in Annex V: (a) paper; (b) wood panels; (c) sawn wood.” The methodology is unchanged compared to Decision 529/2013/EU. The whereas n°12 states “The increased sustainable use of harvested wood products can substantially limit emissions into and enhance removals of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. The accounting rules should ensure that Member States accurately reflect in accounts the changes in the harvested wood products pool when they take place, to provide incentives for enhanced use of harvested wood products with long life cycles. The Commission should provide guidance on methodological issues related to the accounting for harvested wood products”.
Copy of the Proposal for a REGULATION on the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry into the 2030 climate and energy framework is available here: http://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regdoc/rep/1/2016/EN/1-2016-479-EN-F1-1.PDF