The European Commission has taken the first step towards incorporating farming and forestry, the last sectors without EU wide rules on emission, into its climate policy.
Until now the efforts of farmers and forest owners have been either partly ignored or not recognised at all because of the challenges that come with collecting carbon data from farms and forests and a lack of rules for emissions.
According to the EU, forests and agricultural lands cover three quarters of European territory, and this is important for climate policy because they store large amounts of carbon and prevent it from being released into the atmosphere. To give some context, if the amount of stored carbon was increased by just 0.1% then it would remove the annual emissions of 100 million cars from the atmosphere.
Following a decision from the United Nations Framework on Climate Change on revised accounting rules from soils and forests, the EU is hoping it will be able to close the gap and find new opportunities to reward farmers for their help in tackling climate change.
Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard said, “This is the first step to incorporate these sectors into the EU’s reduction efforts. In Durban all countries agreed revised accounting rules for these sectors.
“The EU is now delivering with this proposal. The proposal will also contribute to protect biodiversity and water resources, support rural development and have a more climate-friendly agriculture”.
The next step is for the proposal to go in front of the European Parliament and the European Council. If it is agreed then it will pave the way for European countries to include farming and forestry in their greenhouse gas reduction targets.
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