FIT FOR 55 FACTSHEET: Land Use, Land Use Change And Forestry (LULUCF)

by Gabrielle Locati

“The Paris Agreement, adopted in December 2015 under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entered into force in November 2016 (“the Paris Agreement”). Its Parties have agreed to hold the increase in the global average temperature well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.“ (Amendment 17, Proposal for a recital)The article was adapted to cite scientific evidence and sources behind the strengthened commitment of the EU. It also makes an important point to mention previous regulations enacted and in force on the matter of climate change.






 
No specific mention to the effects of land artificialisation destined towards new transportation facilities.The environmental impact of land artificialisation destined to new transport facilities is now taken into account. Also, good maintenance of existing facilities should be ensured to lower soil and climate impact.
Only the general scope of the intervention in the LULUCF sector was mentioned.The text was simplified and national targets and subnational targets are indicated along with an updated timeline. Five year cycles are established as compliance periods for member states at the end of which the net targets for removal of GHG emissions shall be adjusted. It also mentions the tools and methods through which emissions will be tracked.
No Regular Commission Report.Every five years a report will be published by the Commission which will present a comprehensive review of the data presented by member states; it will also calculate trends and predictions and propose necessary actions. The importance of the report is particularly stressed as its methodoloogy is thoroughly explained in the amended article.
Synergy in the land use, land use 
change, and forestry sector. Natural carbon sinks.
Synergy in all sectors of the economy. Progress in lowering CO2 emissions in one sector is not allowed to compensate for the lack of other sectors in that regard. Enhancing removal by use of natural carbon sinks (which is not a linear and  constant process) and reducing GHG emissions are now separate challenges and will be approached differently.
Each nation will contribute to the collective targets.The specific targets of each country should be balanced and flexible to accommodate the different national circumstances.
Removal of 310 million tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2030 in the LULUCF sectors.Removal of at least 310 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in the LULUCF sectors alone. In addition, new initiatives towards carbon farming will be implemented in order to further augmentate this number by 50 million tonnes of CO2.
The review method was mentioned by the draft presented by the Commission.An additional independent expert  review will be created and its role and aim clearly outlined. It will also be of public domain.
No specified targeted year for climate neutrality.Specified objective of climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest.
Simply mentioned the overall reduction of GHG emissions required.Encourages states to overachieve their targets and foster restoration of biodiversity in their lands.
Differentiation of national targets.In the approved draft it is underlined how specific national circumstances are taken into account and that targets are set unevenly but in a balanced manner through the Member States.
No specific method of monitoring is determined.Biodiversity and land use monitoring systems can be put into place by the Commission as well as minimum requirements for national targets.
General mention of biodiversity.Biodiversity safeguarding, reinforcement and restoration as a key element in LULUCF and environmental safeguarding.
No specific rule established how to calculate annual GHG emissions and removals from cropland, wetlands, grassland sectors.Rules are established in order to clearly calculate annual GHG emissions and removals from sectors such as cropland, wetlands, grassland sectors.
No mention of specific financial support for the LULUCF sectors.Financial support to land and forest owners to help them achieve the climate mitigation targets will be set. Priority will be given to the “promotion of ecosystem-based approaches in forests and agricultural land”.
Does not differentiate between sustainable carbon and not sustainable carbon.Sustainable carbon is now officially defined and is a requirement for storage technologies. Emissions derived from biomass energy would now be accounted for under the  EU law if the legislation is passed 
Flexibilities and governance were not clearly outlined.If targets are not met for two consecutive years by a Member State, recommendations can be published by the Commision and technical support may be given to support the state. The mechanism for state accountability is simplified and updated.
A Member State can transfer a quantity of GHG emission removals to another country.Member States can buy and sell net removals among each other. If during one five year cycle a Member State overachieves its GHG removal target, this surplus can be taken into account during the next cycle.
Land Use Flexibilities for 2026-2030.A mechanism is put into place to take into account natural disturbances derived from climate change if such issues were not predictable. The mechanism can be put into place from 2026 to 2030. Conditions for Member States to be able to avail themselves of the tool are clearly set.
Compliance reports are to be communicated by march 2027 and 2032.The data from compliance reports will have to be  integrated by data of updated and advanced monitoring systems which are now mentioned in the present legislation proposal. The reports shall be comunicated by march of 2027 and 2032.
Coastal wetlands are not mentioned specifically.The regulation is expanded to include emissions and removals of GHG from coastal wetlands and sets specific targets for those areas.

Commentary:

The regulation passed by the ENVI Committee has greatly improved the proposal of the Commission on land use, land-use change, and forestry (LULUCF). Not only was it essential to simplify and clarify the present legislation, but also to further improve it. The EP increased the carbon sink target, raising it to more than 310 million tonnes of CO2 emissions and indicating an additional 50 million tonnes of CO2 of net removals to be delivered from carbon farming. Furthermore, it underlined how the removal of greenhouse gases by natural sinks and the reduction of greenhouse gas must be regarded as different objectives and approached separately. Most importantly the committee clarified, in a breakthrough vote, what is considered to be sustainable biomass. Thus, biomass derived from wood is now not considered a green energy source and will not be financed by the renewable energy incentives. However, secondary woody biomass is still considered renewable by the draft passed in Parliament, underlining that improvements in climate legislation can and must still be encouraged. Moreover, new mechanisms of accounting and data collection have been put into place such as the implementation of the Land Use and Land Cover Survey (LUCAS) (used to control soil carbon stocks) and a new EU governance accounting model. The scope of land types monitored has also been augmented under the voted regulation. The presented legislation allows a certain margin of flexibility regarding the achievement of targets and sub-targets; it takes into account the means and differences of each Member State and the future possibility of ecosystem perturbation of lands and biodiversity caused by climate change. The legislative changes outlined in this factsheet have been approved by the ENVI, TRAN and AGRI committees of the European Parliament. However, it is uncertain whether all proposed changes will be kept throughout the further steps of the EU legislative process. Notwithstanding potential compromises with the other legislative institutions it is certain that the regulation voted for by the EP will pave the way towards a more progressive line of legislative acts in the LULUCF sector devoted to climate neutrality and the fight against climate change. 

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