New EU carbon credits may not be issued for forest plantations and existing carbon is already being stored on farms, it has been revealed.
The European Union has given more details on how it intends to certify the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The Commission’s proposal, if endorsed by EU countries and lawmakers, would create the basis for a government-recognized certificate for CO2 removal.
Brussels said it will now develop legislation that includes detailed criteria for certain types of extraction, such as farming practices that suck CO2 into natural ecosystems.
The proposal establishes requirements for third-party verification and certification of carbon removal, the administration of certification schemes and the functioning of registers.
In particular, carbon removal activities must meet four criteria:
They must be accurately measured and provide clear CO2 removal benefits.
The additional carbon removal (compared to a baseline) caused by an activity should outweigh any emissions generated as a result of carrying out the activity over its entire life cycle.
The “net benefit of CO2 removal” should be robustly and accurately quantified.
You must go beyond standard practices and legal requirements.
The preferred method of demonstrating additionality is to establish a “standardized” baseline that accurately reflects standard practices and the regulatory and market conditions under which the activity takes place.
It also has the benefit of recognizing the early efforts of land managers and industries that have engaged in carbon removal activities in the past.
To ensure ambition over time, the standardized baseline should be updated regularly.
You must ensure that the carbon removed is stored for as long as possible and the risk of carbon release should be minimized.
The certificates will clearly show the duration of the CO2 storage and distinguish permanent storage from temporary storage.
They must have a neutral impact on, or add value to, other environmental objectives such as biodiversity, climate change adaptation, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, water quality, zero pollution or circular economy.
The commission said it will prioritize the development of “tailor-made certification methods” for carbon farming activities that offer significant additional benefits for biodiversity.
At the same time, it said practices such as forest monoculture, which have detrimental effects on biodiversity, should not be eligible for certification.
The commission said carbon farming includes farming practices that remove CO2 from the atmosphere and contribute to the goal of carbon neutrality.
The rewetting of bogs was given as an example. Others are:
■ Afforestation and reforestation that respect ecological principles conducive to biodiversity, and improved sustainable forest management, including biodiversity-friendly practices and forest adaptation to climate change.
■ Agroforestry and other forms of mixed farming that combine woody vegetation (trees or shrubs) with crop and/or animal production systems on the same land.
■ Use of cover crops, cover crops, conservation tillage and enhancement of landscape features: protecting soils, reducing soil loss through erosion and increasing soil organic carbon on degraded farmland.
■ Targeted conversion of arable land to fallow land or set-aside land to permanent grassland.
Use of Emission Allowances
The commission said carbon removal certificates can be used for outcome-based rewards from private or public sources.
It outlined several examples, including:
■ Food companies can reward farmers for higher carbon removals that result from higher carbon storage in soils or other climate-friendly practices such as agroforestry.
While farmers benefit from additional income, food companies can credibly document their carbon footprint.
Thanks to harmonized certification rules, it will be easier for consumers and investors to compare the climate claims of food companies.
■ Public bodies or private investors that want to fund innovative carbon removal projects or procure carbon removals – such as through reverse public auctions or pre-market commitments – can use the certification rules to better compare bids and reward projects based on the level of the certified moves.
Regional authorities can fund the creation or expansion of nature parks through the sale of carbon removal certificates, thereby monetizing both climate and biodiversity benefits.
“These proposals do not offer a serious income generation opportunity”
IFA President Tim Cullinan said the EU proposals are unlikely to provide a framework that would generate significant additional income for Irish farmers.
“Although it is still early days, it appears that the Commission proposal will not offer any serious income-generating opportunities unless a farmer has a sizable land bank,” he said.
Mr Cullinan said the proposal was flawed in that it failed to recognize carbon already stored on farms.
“Farms that have sequestered more carbon through hedges or other methods over the years don’t get credit for maintaining them and continuing to store carbon,” he said.
“The Commission’s plan is to only recognize the carbon removed each year.
“This document is very much a framework document with many details still to be worked out. But it is clear that all the carbon that has accumulated on the farms over the years is being ignored. That’s wrong.”
EU farming group Copa Cogeca said one of the most problematic issues was the definition of carbon crops.
The proposal only takes into account a limited part of agricultural practices in terms of reducing emissions.
“Only ‘net greenhouse gas removals’ qualify for certification, while mitigation practices that farmers and cooperatives could implement are not included in the text,” it said.
“Practices like adding feed additives, developing low-emission buildings or using precision fertilizer have a real impact on limiting emissions.
“It is difficult to understand why these practices, which have real costs to farmers, could not be included in the final scope of certification,” it said.
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/schemes/inside-the-eus-carbon-farming-plans-42195413.html In the EU carbon farming plans