12 April 2022

Carbon farming regulation getting closer in EU as Council adopts conclusions

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La sede del Consiglio dell'Unione Europea. L'organo con sede a Bruxelles ha approvato le conclusioni della Commissione UE sul carbon farming. Foto: Tauno Tõhk EU2017EE Estonian Presidency Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

The Council of the EU Ministers has approved the Commission’s conclusions on soil carbon sequestration. The implementation of these practices in agriculture is expected to save 42 million tons of CO2 in the European Union by 2030

by Matteo Cavallito

 

A new step forward has been made for carbon farming in the EU. The Council of the European Union has approved the conclusions expressed in December by the Commission on carbon sequestration in agricultural soils. This initiative, aims to “encourage agricultural practices that help to capture carbon from the atmosphere and store it in soil or biomass in a sustainable way.”

The conclusions, according to an official statement, “specify what the Council expects from the certification framework for carbon removals, for which a legislative proposal will follow at the end of this year, to ensure that economic value is attached to practices that increase carbon removal and storage, based on scientifically proven measurement requirements.”

A key agricultural practice for climate mitigation

The approval of the legislation in 2022 reflects a clear position from Brussels. The Commission, in particular, has accepted since long the appeals of industry associations and organizations. And it has recognized the crucial role of carbon farming practices among the tools to mitigate climate change.

These practices, says the Council, “may include, on the farming side, planting hedges or trees, growing legumes, using catch crops and cover crops, practising conservation agriculture and maintaining peatlands, and on the forestry side, afforestation and reforestation.”

Their implementation as part of the European Green Deal should therefore help achieve one of the continent’s climate goals. That is, the reduction of 55% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. An intermediate goal which should lead to climate neutrality at EU level by 2050.

New incentives for farmers and foresters

Among the most important elements emerging from the Council’s decision is the recognition “of the importance of providing financial support that offers sufficient incentive to farmers and foresters alongside the common agricultural policy”. The incentive plan, yet to be defined, should be based on the use of public resources as well as private funding. With the aim of encouraging operators to adopt climate-friendly practices.

The Council, says the statement, “has also supported the Commission’s plan to set up an expert group of farming and forestry representatives, considered that this group would be well placed to evaluate and take account of existing carbon certification schemes and share examples of best practice from across the EU, and invited the Commission to work with the group to look into extending certification to include reductions in greenhouse gases, particularly methane and nitrous oxide.”

Carbon farming may save 42 million tons of CO2

According to the Commission, carbon farming is expected to save a total of 42 million tons of CO2 in Europe by 2030. To achieve this goal, in particular, three different measures must be taken. These include the promotion of carbon farming within the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and other EU programs such as LIFE and the mission “Soil Deal for Europe”, as well as the adoption of a definition of standard methodologies for monitoring, reporting and verification to ensure proper certification and enable the development of the carbon market. Finally, offering data management and tailor-made consultancy services for agricultural sector is also crucial, according to the Commission.