Climate Mitigation Policies for Europe: The Net Zero Target and the Agriculture, Forestry and Land Use Sector
The European Landowners’ Organization supports the use of land use activities in the fight against climate change by reducing carbon emissions.
On the 14th of July 2021, the Commission adopted a package of proposals to make several EU sectoral policies (climate, energy, land use etc.) fit for reducing carbon emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Part of the Green Deal, it is called the Fit for 55 package. The package gives substance and clear modus operandi to the Green Deal’s objective to become climate neutral by 2050.
Including land use to the Fit for 55 package is capital to reach Green Deal’s objectives. Through this package, the Commission proposed to amend the Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) regulation, the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), and the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM). Following these amendments, forests and land use activities should contribute more importantly to carbon storage. The idea behind it is to compensate carbon emissions from other sectors.
ELO emphasises that forest, land use and their derivative products should be used and promoted to address climate change. Substituting fossil and carbon intensive products by forest and land use products is cornerstone to addressing climate change and carbon emissions. Without active forest and land management, and without phasing out from fossil products, carbon emissions will continue to increase, deteriorating further forest resilience, in turn limiting forest and land contribution to climate change mitigation. Therefore, ELO strives for active forest and land use and management in the fight against climate change.
2020 was the year when the first European Climate Law was proposed, paving the way for a climate-neutral society by 2050. ELO supports the goal of modernizing all sectors of the economy to become more energy-efficient and resilient.
We welcomed the Commission’s intention of sup- porting a “renovation wave”, to boost renewables, for both the energy and transport sectors, and to consider options to boost carbon sequestration. While efforts are needed to increase the carbon sink in soils, forests and wetlands, there is also a need to boost the substitution effect, by using bio- mass to replace fossil-based products and energy. If we are serious about systemic change, more attention needs to be given to a circular bioeco- nomy.
In fact, the repercussions of climate change on our rural areas are obvious, recent years show, without any doubt, the hugely detrimental effects of heat-
24 waves, with extended drought periods, pest and diseases outbreaks and a new trend of mega-fires. In fact, 2020 is now tied with 2016 as the hottest year in recorded history, with the Arctic crown of the planet heating up faster than anywhere else.
While policymakers are aware that economic loss- es from weather and climate-related extremes are on average already €12 billion per year in the EU, the current revision of the adaptation strategy is likely to be insufficient to tackle its consequences, which have a major implication on the capacity of land-based sectors to sequester carbon. A pro- posal is expected in early 2021.
2021 is expected to be a decisive year for Europe’s climate ambitions, with the European Commis- sion to enshrine the net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 in law, before the COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow in December. Also, just about every major policy on energy and climate is going to be revised as part of the package for 2030, ranging from the Renewable Energy Di-
rective and the Energy Efficiency Directive to the Emissions Trading Directive and the Effort Shar- ing Regulation, as well as the infamous LULUCF directive dealing with land use change. New initiatives are also being considered like the car- bon border adjustment mechanism. ELO will be following the review of these policy instruments envisaged in June 2021 closely.