The European Union has passed a law to expand its forests, swamps and other “sinks” that absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), a move that could allow the bloc to increase its target for a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Negotiators from the European Parliament and the European Council, representing EU governments, agreed this morning on legislation called the Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) Regulation.
The law establishes the goal of eliminating 310 million tons of CO2 equivalent by 2030 through the use of soil, trees, plants, biomass and wood.
Binding targets should be set for all 27 EU members, aimed at progressively increasing removals and reducing emissions to reach the EU-wide target.
Currently, EU countries must ensure that they offset emissions from land use and forestry with at least an equivalent amount of carbon removal. According to the new law, from 2026 CO2 removals must exceed emissions.
The law could lead the EU to raise its net greenhouse gas emission reduction target to almost 57% by 2030 from 1990 levels, up from 55% today, putting it on track to achieve climate neutrality for 2050.
The agreement is the last of three that the European Union hoped to conclude in time for a UN climate summit that began in Egypt on Sunday.
The blockade agreed last month on a law effectively banning the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars from 2035 and on Tuesday agreed on a law setting national targets for reducing carbon emissions.
Increasing carbon sequestration can take the form of recreating old forests or generating new ones, wetting peatlands, or changing agricultural practices, such as reducing plowing or planting longer-rooted crops to trap more carbon in the soil.
EU governments tried to relax the system but faced opposition from MEPs who said the bloc had already lost around a quarter of its carbon sink in the last 20 years and that the law required guarantees both in carbon sink targets as in biodiversity.
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