Effort Sharing Decision in 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework and Emissions and removals from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF)

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EESC opinion: Effort Sharing Decision in 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework and Emissions and removals from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF)

Background

In October 2014, the European Council agreed the 2030 policy framework for climate and energy. The framework sets out the European Union (EU)'s commitment to a binding target of at least a 40% domestic reduction in economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 2030 compared to 1990. All sectors should contribute to achieving these emission reductions. The European Council confirmed that the target will be delivered collectively by the European Union in the most cost-effective manner possible, with the reductions in the Emission Trading System (ETS) - and non-ETS sectors amounting to 43% and 30% respectively by 2030 compared to 2005.

The proposal COM(2016) 482final defines national targets in line with an EU-wide reduction of 30% in the non-ETS sectors compared to 2005 by 2030 in a fair manner while providing for cost-effectiveness as endorsed by the European Council. Member States contribute to the overall EU reduction in 2030 with targets ranging from 0% to -40% below 2005 levels. The reductions under this Regulation promote improvements notably in buildings, agriculture, waste management and transport.

The objective of the proposal COM(2016) 479 final is to determine how the LULUCF sector will be included into the EU climate policy framework, as of 2021. Up to this date, the Kyoto Protocol places constraints on the EU and each of its Member States, as they need to ensure that the LULUCF sector does not yield extra emissions. However, the Kyoto Protocol will expire at the end of 2020. Consequently, governance for the LULUCF sector needs to be further developed within the EU. The Paris Agreement, adopted in December 2015 at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) includes a long-term goal and spells out that the contribution from land use and forests in reaching the long term climate mitigation objectives will be critical.

Key points

The EESC welcomes the timely proposals from the Commission to implement the EU's commitment to reducing its greenhouse gases by 2030 in all sectors of the economy and society. The EESC, however, emphasises the need to simultaneously take into account the global long-term challenge of climate change mitigation. This requires a thorough evaluation of whether the EU's current climate policy approach, with regard to efforts at global, EU and national levels, is appropriate in paving the way for a carbon-neutral world.

With regard to effort sharing, the EESC fully agrees with the view that differences between Member States have to be taken into account to ensure fairness and cost-effectiveness. To achieve genuine cost-effectiveness in a fair way, effort sharing calculations should, however, address both aspects at the same time across all Member States and set the targets in such a way that the relative costs are the same for each country. Due to the shortcomings of effort-sharing, the EESC feels it is important to introduce flexibility mechanisms and develop them further.

Integration of land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) into the 2030 framework brings a remarkable new element into EU climate policy. Sustainable use and active management of bio-based natural resources, i.e. a sustainable bioeconomy - including sustainable forest management and climate-smart food production - is a key element of this transition. The role of agriculture and forestry calls for a holistic approach from EU climate policy. Both the reduction of emissions and the sequestration of carbon need to be taken into account, as do the challenges of adaptation and food security.

The EESC considers it important for the emission and removal of greenhouse gases to be evaluated scientifically, with transparency and common metrics. It calls on the Commission to develop the accounting rules of land and forest management in such a way that they reflect actual emissions and sequestration rates. In addition, the national forest reference levels need to be established by Member States in accordance with the projected sustainable use of forest resources. It is also important to avoid double accounting of biomass-related emissions of LULUCF in other sectors.

The EESC encourages individual Member States to provide ambitious national, bottom-up policies for the LULUCF sector, with the close involvement of civil society in the process at national, regional and local levels. It also acknowledges that the success of the ambitious proposals requires substantial financial resources.

Related opinions:

Commission's proposal