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Assessing the climate impact of land use and forestry

How we use land and what we do with our forests can either mitigate or aggravate climate change. On 11 June, environment ministers discussed a proposal for EU-wide rules to account for the greenhouse gas impact of land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF), giving guidance for future work.

© Fotolia

Appropriate land uses and management practices in forestry and agriculture can help limit emissions of greenhouse gases and enhance their removal from the atmosphere. So far, however, farmers' and forest owners' efforts in this area have not been duly recognised in the Union's greenhouse gas accounting or included in its emission reduction targets.

Under the proposed two-stage approach, the first step would be the creation of harmonised accounting rules for emissions and removals resulting from LULUCF activities. Once these rules are in place, consideration could be given to formally including the LULUCF sector in the EU's greenhouse gas reduction commitment.

In addition, the Commission is proposing that member states set up national action plans on how to lower emissions and increase removals.

At the end of the debate, Martin Lidegaard, Danish Minister for Climate, Energy and Building, stated that the ministers had generally welcomed the Commission's proposal. He had taken note of the various views and suggestions, which included the timing and conditions for the second step, using synergies with existing policies and taking into account national circumstances. The ministers' contributions will be analysed carefully with a view to holding further discussions and making further progress on the issue.

Forests and agricultural land make up more than three-quarters of Europe’s landscape. While greenhouse gas emissions in the EU come mainly from energy production and other man-made sources, some emissions are compensated for through the absorption of carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and stored in trees and other plants, soils, biomass and timber.


Proposal for a decision on LULUCF accounting rules
(full text in pdf)
Council debate
(video in all languages)
Press release
Press conference
(video in several languages)
LULUCF in the EU
(Commission web pages on climate action)
on the UNFCCC website

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