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Carbon removals: agreement between Parliament and EU Council

The new framework will certify the absorption and capture of the substance in agricultural soils

The European Parliament and the European Council have reached a provisional agreement on the first EU-wide voluntary framework for the certification of high-quality carbon removals. The agreement now requires formal approval, before its inclusion in the Official Journal.

This certification framework will promote innovative carbon absorption technologies and carbon sequestration in agricultural soils that contribute to the EU's climate, environment and zero pollution objectives. This new framework will help the EU achieve climate neutrality by certifying carbon sinks and carbon sequestration in agricultural soils to ensure they are transparent and reliable, preventing greenwashing and creating new business opportunities.

Today's agreement establishes certification standards for: 1) Carbon sequestration in agricultural soils, such as forest and soil restoration and prevention of soil emissions, rewetting of peatlands, more efficient use of fertilizers and other agricultural practices innovative; 2) Industrial carbon sinks, such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, or direct carbon capture and storage in the atmosphere; 3) Carbon binding in long-lasting products and materials, such as wood-based building materials or biochar.

“The provisionally agreed regulation will improve the EU's ability to quantify, monitor and verify the authenticity of all these forms of carbon sequestration,” the European Commission said in a statement. “In particular, it establishes rules to recognize certification schemes that demonstrate compliance with the EU framework and a specific set of criteria to ensure the high quality of carbon removals and the transparency and credibility of the certification process.”

The agreed criteria will ensure that carbon removals are: correctly quantified; store carbon for an agreed long-term period (a minimum of 35 years for carbon stored in products); they go beyond existing practices and do not simply reward the status quo; and contribute to broader sustainability goals, for example by providing positive impacts on biodiversity. An EU register will be established to create a high level of transparency on certified carbon removals. Which will be implemented within four years. In the meantime, the registers of existing certification systems can be used. The regulation establishes the order of priority of the certification methodologies that should be developed. On this basis, the Commission, supported by a group of experts on carbon absorption, will continue to work to develop credible and tailored certification methodologies for different types of carbon absorption activities.

Certified carbon removals can form the basis of new economic opportunities and can be monetized through private schemes and public sector support, as well as generating commercial benefits with consumers who want to reward environmentally friendly practices. Carbon sequestration in agricultural soils will create new business models for farmers and foresters and is expected to produce significant benefits for biodiversity. The agreed regulation also encourages the use of durable bio-based construction products to keep carbon bound for several decades or longer, spurring new sustainable building techniques.

Regarding financial support for carbon sink technologies, the Regulation unlocks innovative public and private financing, including impact funding or results-based public support, as carbon sinks and carbon farmers can be rewarded on the basis of certified absorptions and emission reductions. It will also support the new European Bauhaus by recognizing the carbon storage capacity of bio-based and energy-efficient building materials. The Commission will continue to finance carbon removals through various programmes, such as the Innovation Fund, the Common Agricultural Policy, the Regional Development Fund, the Life program and the Horizon Europe program (including the mission "A European Pact for soils").

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EFA News - European Food Agency