- 20.12.2021

Draft report on LULUCF: EU carbon sinks target for 2030 must be raised to tackle climate change and accelerate markets for sustainable land use measures

Press release 20.12.2021

MEP Ville Niinistö, Greens/EFA, has submitted his draft report on the LULUCF regulation. In his report, Niinistö proposes a significant increase in the EU’s and its member states’ land use carbon sink targets for 2030 and proposes the setting of a 2050 carbon sequestration target pathway by 2025.

– The role of land use in tackling the climate crisis has increased. Land use especially within agriculture is a major source of climate emissions in Europe, while the carbon sinks in EU’s forests have been decreasing for the last 10 years. That’s why strong and systematic measures to reduce carbon emissions caused by land-use and to increase carbon sinks must now be taken up to a whole new level, Niinistö says.

In his draft report, Niinistö raises the target to 490 million tonnes CO2-eq of net removals by 2030 based on the full use of the various solutions proposed by scientists and other experts. These include promoting carbon farming, restoring wetlands and bogs, afforestation, halting deforestation and better land-use planning, reducing agricultural emissions, improving the sustainability of forest use and keeping harvesting levels within the limits of biodiversity and climate.  According to Niinistö’s assessment, these increased sink targets can be achieved more cost-effectively compared to the price of emission reductions during the same period. 

– Raising the sink target to 490 million tonnes and accelerating the financing of new ways to increase carbon sinks in the EU contributes as a significant part of our climate commitments. It would be more in line with the Paris Agreement and at the same time we could demand stronger climate action on land use from other countries. The Commission’s proposal would only raise the EU’s carbon sinks to a level they were at the beginning of the 2010s. We can do better, Niinistö emphasizes.

In the draft report, Niinistö proposes a separate sub-target for agriculture, so that emissions from land use should achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. The rapporteur sees no benefit and rather risks in bringing non-CO2 emissions of agriculture, caused mostly by livestock, into LULUCF, as was proposed by the European Commission, and therefore omits that from his proposal.

–  It is important to make incentives also for the agricultural sector to decrease emissions.

That is why my proposal contains an EU level 2030 reduction target in agricultural land use emissions by around 100 million tonnes. This means keeping the target for additional sinks for forests reasonable: the share of forests and other land uses will increase by around 80 million tonnes compared to the proposal by the Commission, Niinistö says. 

Niinistö is also introducing new incentives for individual farmers and forest managers who could benefit from storing more carbon on their land and forests.

– Public funding should be further mobilized to support ecosystem-based approaches in forests and agricultural lands.  Member States should be required to spend at least 5% of public revenues generated from the auctioning of EU ETS allowances for programs supporting the scaling up of ecosystem-based approaches in forests and agricultural lands. Also other EU programmes could be used to finance these incentives, Niinistö says.

Niinistö sees LULUCF as a important chance to solve both the climate crisis and biodiversity crisis simultaneously. 

– These two environmental problems feed and exacerbate each other. Therefore, the solutions to them must be common. That is why I propose better consideration of biodiversity values ​​and measures to preserve nature in the reporting of carbon sinks and in increasing carbon sinks, Niinistö emphasises.

→ Draft report will be later available on ENVI committee website.