Forest management has crucial role to play in combating climate change, say S&Ds

Forest management has a crucial role to play in combating climate change, say S&Ds

Today S&D MEPs in the environment committee led a cross-party coalition to incorporate the effects of land use change and deforestation on carbon emission and storage in the EU’s CO2-emissions-reduction efforts for the first time. The European Parliament's environment committee backed the S&D proposal for a robust and scientifically-based accounting system for greenhouse-gas emissions and removals due to changes in land use to make sure that all sectors contribute to the overall EU emissions-reduction target. The accounting system will reflect the actual activities of member states, including emissions from bioenergy use. The new rules still have to be adopted in a vote by the plenary of the European Parliament.

Paul Brannen, S&D MEP and spokesperson on emissions and removals from land and forests, said:

“Through the growth of trees, forests take in more carbon than they emit. Forests are a significant global carbon stock. EU forests absorb 10% of all EU greenhouse-gas emissions every year. Forest management can play a crucial role in combatting climate change – if it is done right. This is why it is so important that forest management must be accounted for in a more transparent way.

“The current accounting rules don’t work well and can even be counter-productive, giving countries credits when they are really reducing the CO2-absorption capacity of their forests. Forest mitigation should be measured using a scientifically objective approach, not allowing countries to hide the impacts of policies that increase emissions. In a spirit of a compromise we agreed on a slightly less ambitious system, based on the forest management practice and intensity of 2000-2012 period. Current emissions will be compared to the clear benchmark, the 2000-2012 period, and a transparent system of debits and credits will be set up. Overall we are optimistic that the new rules will give incentives for more climate-friendly land use, but will not impose red tape or any type of restrictions on harvesting and national forestry policies.”

Note to the editor:

Until now, the emission or removal of greenhouse gases caused by changes in land use have not been included in the EU climate targets. However, incorporating forest and land use in the targets should be an essential part of EU climate policy, as all sectors need to contribute to the overall goal of reducing EU greenhouse-gas emissions to at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. Deforestation is responsible for almost one tenth of anthropogenic carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions, while forests remove almost a third of CO2 emissions from the atmosphere. The new rules would establish a new EU governance process for monitoring how EU countries calculate emissions and removals as a result of changes in their forests and agricultural land use.