EC to Improve Common Greenhouse Gas Accounting Rules

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 Print Email

The European Commission (EC) has presented a new proposal on accounting of greenhouse gases emissions in the forest and agriculture sectors. This is the first step towards incorporating removals and emissions from forests and agriculture into the EU's climate policy.

The proposal establishes accounting rules for greenhouse gas emissions and removals in the forest and agriculture sectors, the last major sectors without common EU-wide rules.

Until now, the efforts of farmers and forest owners and their good practice aimed at securing carbon stored in forests and soils, have not been or only been partly recognised. There have been challenges that come with collecting robust carbon data from forests and soils and the lack of common rules on how to account for emissions and removals.

The EU is determined to close the gap in common accounting in its climate policy. This will provide new opportunities, for instance, to reward farmers for their contribution in the fight against climate change in the context of the common agricultural policy.

The proposal is in line with the outcome from the international negotiations in Durban which took place in November and December 2011. The EC proposes that:

· the same complete set of accounting activities are used including the newly established activity wetland drainage and rewetting.

· The same complete set of carbon pools are used, now including harvested wood products that are important to forest based industries.

· The same crediting rules apply for relevant activities, in particular to reference level for standing forests; gross-net for afforestation, reforestation and deforestation, and; net-net for all other activities.

Commissioner for climate action Connie Hedegaard said: ‘What we propose today is harmonised rules to account for forests and agricultures emissions. This is the first step to incorporate these sectors into the EU's reduction efforts.’

The proposed decision for harmonised rules will be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council under the ordinary legislative procedure. With the proposal also comes the obligation for each member state to adopt action plans on how they will increase removals of carbon and decrease emissions of greenhouse gases in forests and soils throughout the EU. The proposal does not include a commitment for national emission reduction targets for these sectors. The EC says this may come later once the accounting rules have proven robust.

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