POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - EUROPE

Climate change

MEPs revise laws to improve forest carbon sinks and CO2-reducing targets



Revisions to EU laws to improve the well-being and increase the growth of natural CO2 sinks like forests and marshes, as well as higher GHG emission reduction targets, were adopted in the EU parliament.  Photo: Guy Wolff/Maison Moderne

Revisions to EU laws to improve the well-being and increase the growth of natural CO2 sinks like forests and marshes, as well as higher GHG emission reduction targets, were adopted in the EU parliament.  Photo: Guy Wolff/Maison Moderne

The European Parliament on 14 March voted on two laws that aim to improve and expand natural CO2-absorbing ecosystems and impose stricter national targets to make the European Union climate-neutral by 2050 and improve biodiversity.

479 members of the EU parliament voted in favour of the revision of the regulation on the land use, land use change and forestry sector (LULUCF). 97 voted against it while 43 abstained. This regulation pushes for the expansion of forests, marshes and further natural ecosystems that act as CO2 absorbers. Member states will also be able to purchase or sell removal credits to reach their targets.

This legislation should remove a net 310m tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2030--15% more than today. “This new EU target should reduce the EU’s GHGs in 2030 further from 55% to around 57% compared to 1990-levels,” said the European parliament in a press release. The revision of the LULUCF is part of the Fit for 55 in 2030 package that plans a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990.

Luxembourg GHG reduction target now 50%

The second regulation revision voted on 14 March, the Effort Sharing Regulation, increases greenhouse gas reduction targets at the EU level from 30% to 40% compared to 2005. This regulation targets sectors like road transport, heating of buildings, agriculture and waste management, which the EU parliament says are responsible for 60% of EU planet-warming emissions.

Richer countries have higher targets to meet as the latter are based on GDP per capita and cost-effectiveness. Luxembourg is therefore among a series of countries that should reduce their GHG emissions by 50% in 2030. Other countries with the same goal are Sweden, Finland, Germany and Denmark. Grand ducal neighbours Belgium (-47%) and France (-47.5%) are also among those facing tougher cuts.  

To ensure that all countries contribute while “ensuring a just and socially fair transition,” as a statement by the EU parliament explains, member states will be limited in how many emissions they can save from previous years and borrow from future years. The revision also foresees more transparency on reporting, making information around national actions public to hold countries more accountable. 

486 MEPs were in favour of this second revision, against 132 objectors and 10 abstainers.

Both revisions to EU legislation will be published in the EU Official Journal and enter into force 20 days later.