EU Council And Parliament Reach Agreement On The Carbon Removal Certification Framework

EU Council And Parliament Reach Agreement On The Carbon Removal Certification Framework - Carbon Herald
Credit: Christian Lue | Unsplash

The Carbon Removal Certification Framework – the regulation that aims to scale up carbon removal activities in the continent, and integrate carbon removals into the EU’s climate agenda, received on Feb 20th after midnight a provisional political agreement from both the European Council and Parliament. 

The political agreement is a milestone following the Trilogues or the final negotiation stage of the framework that started in November 2023, involving negotiations on the final text of the bill. It is also prior to the final vote expected in April 2024 where if approved, the text will be formally adopted by both the Council and the Parliament, following revision by lawyer-linguists. Then it can be published in the EU’s Official Journal and entered into force.

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Overall, the regulation is the first step towards introducing a comprehensive carbon removal and soil emission reduction framework in EU legislation that will support the continent’s climate goals as well as bring more confidence, credibility, trust and unity in the voluntary carbon markets. 

The objective of the Carbon Removal Certification Framework is to encourage the development of carbon removal technologies and sustainable carbon farming solutions. “It also aims to create new income opportunities for industries deploying carbon removal technologies or developing long-lasting carbon storage products, and for land managers engaging in innovative carbon farming practices. To that end, it sets out clear and reliable rules at EU level to quantify, monitor and verify carbon removals,” as explained by the EU’s announcement on the agreement.  

According to the statement, the reached agreement has an open definition of carbon removals, in line with the one used by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and includes soil emission reductions along with permanent and temporary removals.

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The carbon removal and emission reduction activities included in the framework are grouped in four types of units (a unit means a ton of carbon removed/ reduced):

  • permanent carbon removal – they will store atmospheric or biogenic carbon for several centuries 
  • temporary carbon storage in long-lasting products – those are activities like wood-based construction that have a duration of at least 35 years and can be monitored on-site during the entire monitoring period
  • temporary carbon storage from carbon farming – the activities include restoring forests and soil, wetland management, seagrass meadows, etc.
  • soil emission reductions (from carbon farming) – they include carbon and nitrous oxide reductions from soil management, as long as they result, overall, in an improvement in the soil carbon balance, wetland management; there are no tilling and cover crop practices combined with reduced use of fertilizer.

The last two activities must have a duration of at least five years to be certified and must not lead to land being acquired for speculative purposes negatively affecting rural communities, according to the statement from the Council. To be certified, the carbon removal activities also need to meet the four overarching criteria: quantification, additionality, long-term storage and sustainability.

Image: Dilok Klaisataporn/Shutterstock

The framework will exclude avoided deforestation projects but it will include carbon removals from marine environments. Carbon farming activity must also always generate at least a biodiversity co-benefit like soil health and avoidance of land degradation.

Next, the Commission, assisted by an expert group, will develop certification methodologies for the different types of carbon removal activities, with a view to ensuring the correct, harmonized and cost-effective implementation of the carbon removal criteria. It will also include “clear liability mechanisms when developing the certification methodologies,” as per the statement.

Furthermore, the Commission is tasked to establish a common and transparent electronic EU-wide Registry 4 years after the framework enters into force. This way, information on the registration and issuance of the units equal to one tonne of certified net benefit generated by one of the carbon removal or soil/agricultural emission reduction activities, summaries of certification audits, certificates of compliance, will be publicly available and accessible. The EU registry will be funded by annual fixed user fees that are proportionate to the use of the registry.

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