EU Carbon Farming initiative

10 January 2022

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By the end of 2022, the Commission will propose an EU regulatory framework for the certification of carbon removals based on robust and transparent carbon accounting rules and requirements to monitor and verify the authenticity and environmental integrity of high-quality sustainable carbon removals. Such rules will provide the necessary legal framework to scale up carbon farming and industrial solutions removing carbon from the atmosphere.

By Jenny Brunton, Senior European Policy Advisor, British Agriculture Bureau

 

Key actions to support industrial capture, use and storage of CO2

In order to upscale industrial solutions for the capture, use and storage of CO2, the Commission will undertake the following actions:

  • Further develop a standard, robust and transparent methodology to quantify the climate benefit of sustainably-produced wood construction products and other building materials with carbon storage potential;
  • develop methodologies and carry out an integrated EU bioeconomy land-use assessment, with the aim of ensuring consistency of aggregated national and EU policies and targets, and provide technical assistance to Member States to carry out national assessments in support of their bioeconomy policies;
  • better support industrial carbon removals with the Innovation Fund;
  • Horizon Europe calls will continue supporting industrial CO2 capture, transport, use, and storage in its next work program (2023/24);
  • launch a study on the development of the CO2 transport network

Key actions towards the legal proposal for a certification of carbon removals

On the way towards an integration of carbon removals in EU climate policy, the Commission will undertake the following actions:

  • launch a Call for Evidence to strengthen the Commission’s understanding of carbon removals and key issues for their accounting and certification (early 2022);
  • organise a conference to exchange on sustainable carbon cycles and the upcoming legislative proposal for the certification of carbon removals (first quarter 2022);
  • propose an EU regulatory framework for the accounting and certification of carbon removals (end 2022);
  • establish an EU standard in monitoring, reporting and verifying GHG emissions and carbon removals at farm and forest holding level as well as for captured fossil, biogenic or atmospheric CO2 that is transported, processed, stored and potentially re-emitted to the atmosphere each year;
  • organise regular exchanges with other jurisdictions on carbon removal accounting and certification.
Industrial Sustainable Carbon challenge

Reaching climate neutrality requires capturing carbon from the atmosphere for storage and for use as substitute to fossil carbon:

  • By 2028, any ton of CO2 captured, transported, used and stored by industries should be reported and accounted by its fossil, biogenic or atmospheric origin;
  • At least 20% of the carbon used in the chemical and plastic products should be from sustainable non-fossil sources by 2030, in full consideration of the EU’s biodiversity and circular economy objectives and of the upcoming policy framework for bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics.
  • 5Mt of CO2 should be annually removed from the atmosphere and permanently stored through frontrunner projects by 2030.
How is the Commission planning to stimulate the uptake of carbon farming in the EU?

To reach the proposed 2030 climate target of 310 Mt CO2eq of net removals in the EU land sector, as proposed by the Commission in the revision of the Land Use Land Use Change and Forestry Regulation (LULUCF), carbon removals have to be appropriately incentivised. A system needs to be established and promoted at land manager level in order to reward farmers and foresters for additional carbon sequestration they achieve.

Currently, implementation challenges such as the financial effort required to put in place new management practices and the absence of robust monitoring, reporting and verification systems, limit the uptake of carbon farming across the EU. The complexity of measuring carbon sequestration combined with insufficiently tailored advisory services also leads to uncertainty about revenue possibilities for land managers.

To address these challenges, the Commission will promote the role of EU public funding, in particular from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), support access to advisory services and finance several costs inherent to carbon farming schemes and practices, and reduce the risks for land managers.

The Commission will also support research and innovation under Horizon Europe, including through the “Soil Deal for Europe” mission, to further develop monitoring and reporting tools and digital solutions, and to promote combined approaches for carbon farming where public funding is complemented with revenues generated through the selling of carbon credits on voluntary carbon markets, with participation of private funding.

The Commission will also set up an expert group to exchange best practices on carbon farming with stakeholders and to support the development of EU standards for the certification of carbon removals.

Why is a certification framework for carbon removals needed?

An EU regulatory framework for the certification of carbon removals would allow the transparent and reliable identification of solutions that effectively and sustainably remove carbon from the atmosphere. Establishing common standards and rules for high quality carbon removals would favour a sustainable and cost-efficient deployment of removal solutions in the Union and minimise the risk of fraud and errors.

This certification faces a number of challenges that need to be addressed. Carbon removals are at risk of uncontrolled re-emission (so-called non-permanence) and specific measurement difficulties, leading to uncertainty as to actual long-term removals. With regard to carbon farming, existing certification frameworks propose a wide variety of approaches to quantify the amount of carbon removals which are generated compared to standard land management practices.

The future EU accounting and certification rules will set scientifically robust requirements in terms of quality of measurement, monitoring standards, reporting protocols and verification tools. This framework should ensure transparency, environmental integrity, and prevent negative impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems, especially when concerning resource or energy-intensive industrial solutions. It should also ensure comparability and recognition of the action started already on the ground.

The Commission will present a legislative proposal for a regulatory framework for the certification of carbon removals by the end of 2022. The Commission will launch a call for evidence in early 2022 to strengthen the Commission's understanding of carbon removals and key issues for their accounting and certification.

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