EU Commission proposes forestry, farming CO2 laws
Carbon stored in forests and farm land will be included in the EU's greenhouse gas reduction targets, if a draft law by the European Commission is adopted by member states and the European Parliament.
The Commission has suggested a specific legal framework for forestry and agricultural carbon, rather than incorporating them into the existing EU emissions trading system (ETS) - currently the main pillar of the bloc's climate policy - in light of the sectors' "specific emissions profile".
By contrast, Australia has decided to allow abatement activities from its domestic land sector to generate Australian carbon credit units which will be allowable for compliance under its ETS.
The Australian government also will allow exchange of these credits for Kyoto emission reduction units (ERUs) which can be used in international carbon markets, including the EU ETS.
Just as the ETS overlaps with, but also goes beyond emissions reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol 20082012, the EU's "Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry" (LULUCF) policy will exceed requirements under the next commitment period of Kyoto from 2013.
Parties to the Kyoto Protocol must account for forest activities, but under the draft EU rules, member states will also have to account for cropland and grazing-land management.
Accounting of carbon emissions and 'removals' (absorption) will begin as soon as the law is passed, but member states will initially be unable to use forestry and farming activities to comply with their EU emissions reduction targets, although this is allowed under Kyoto, the Commission said.
The LULUCF sectors will be excluded from the EU's greenhouse gas reduction target until the accounting methods have been proven to be robust. In the meantime, member states will prepare action plans outlining how they will maintain or increase their greenhouse gas removals through LULUCF, and how they will incentivise "climate friendly behaviour" in the relevant sectors.
If the proposed LULUCF law is passed, it will mean that all economic activities in the EU causing man-made greenhouse gas emissions will be covered by accounting rules.
Separately, the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) has called on the UN to quickly create market mechanisms like certified emission reductions (CERs) for cutting emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD+).
Responding to a UN consultation on REDD+, the lobby group representing banks and big emitters said long-term demand for these credits had to be proven in order to maximise private finance for REDD+ through the carbon markets, but a prompt start for such a market mechanism would catalyse immediate investment. VF
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