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Deal for more CO2 emission cuts by 2030 endorsed in committee

CO2 emitted by transport, farming, buildings and waste must be cut by 30%, and CO2 emitted and absorbed by forestry and land use must balance out, by 2030.
These are the aims of two draft EU laws backed by Environment Committee MEPs on Wednesday.

        National targets as part of EU-wide CO2 reduction target of 30% from 2005 levels by 2030
        For emissions from farms, transport, buildings and waste
        Land use and forestry: emissions and absorption must balance out by 2030
        Plans also fit in with wider EU 2030 commitment to reduce emissions by 40% from 1990 levels

Under these laws, already informally agreed by MEPs and ministers, EU countries would set their own binding national targets for cutting CO2 emissions and boosting CO2 absorption by forests.

Together, these cuts contribute to the EU’s collective pledge, under the Paris Agreement on climate change, to deliver a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors, from 1990 levels.

“The good news of today is that our vote transforms the European commitments under the Paris agreement into concrete targets and actions. Moreover, the adopted law is stricter than the original Commission proposal. But we are still far away from a truly low-emissions development pathway that keeps temperature increase within safe levels. More emission cuts are required to hold warming within safe levels. Europe, as well as other parts of the world, will have to work immediately on proposals for additional emission cuts.” said Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy (ALDE, NL), rapporteur on the so-called “effort sharing regulation”.

The agreement with Council was backed with 33 votes to 11 and 18 abstentions.

The legislation will make it possible to break down the EU targets into binding, national ones for sectors not already covered by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme,  i.e. agriculture, transport, building and waste, which together account for about 60% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Each EU member state will have to follow an emissions reduction “pathway”, starting on 1 June 2019, instead of 2020 as proposed by the Commission, in order to prevent an increase in emissions in the first few years or a postponement of its emission reductions.

Forestry as a tool for countering climate change

A separate law, aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions and boost absorption from forests as a way to tackle climate change, was backed with 53 votes to 6, with 1 abstention.

“Forest management should continue to be active and sustainable in the future, as this is the only way to ensure that it has a positive impact on ecology and the economy” said rapporteur Norbert Lins (EPP, DE). “We have found a credible balance between flexibility and comparable accounting rules for the 28 member states. Having the countries in charge of this issue will ensure that the principle of subsidiarity is fully respected. In addition, these requirements relate exclusively to member states and will not bind or restrict owners”, he added.

The proposed law would lay down rules under which EU countries have to ensure that CO2 emissions are balanced by CO2 absorption by forests, croplands and grasslands. MEPs ensured that managed wetlands will also be included in the accounting system, given that they, too, store important quantities of CO2.

MEPs bolstered these provisions by adding that from 2030, member states should boost CO2 absorption to exceed emissions, in line with the EU’s long-term objectives and the Paris Agreement.

Next steps

Both files will be put to a vote by the full House at the March plenary session in Strasbourg

Quick facts

Both laws were presented by the EU Commission in July 2016. The “effort sharing” proposal aims to limit post-2020 national emissions of greenhouse gases in sectors not covered by the EU emissions trading system. These include the transport, buildings, agriculture and waste sectors.

The proposal on land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) is designed to include greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry in the 2030 climate and energy framework. EU forests absorb the equivalent of nearly 10% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions each year.

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