The EU Commission presented Wednesday a draft regulation for a framework for defining what constitutes removal of carbon from the atmosphere and its storage, and to incentivise such activities. The Commission says the proposal will boost innovative carbon removal technologies and sustainable carbon farming solutions, and contribute to the EU’s climate, environmental and zero-pollution goals.

The proposed regulation will significantly improve the EU’s capacity to quantify, monitor and verify carbon removals. Higher transparency will ensure trust from stakeholders and industry, and prevent greenwashing. Carbon removals can and must bring clear benefits for the climate, and the Commission will prioritise those carbon removal activities which will provide significant benefits for biodiversity. Moving forward, the Commission, supported by experts, will develop tailored certification methods for carbon removal activities delivering on climate and other environmental objectives.

To ensure the transparency and credibility of the certification process, the proposal sets out rules for the independent verification of carbon removals, as well as rules to recognise certification schemes that can be used to demonstrate compliance with the EU framework. To ensure the quality and comparability of carbon removals, the proposed regulation establishes four QU.A.L.ITY criteria:

  • Quantification: Carbon removal activities need to be measured accurately and deliver unambiguous benefits for the climate;
  • Additionality: Carbon removal activities need to go beyond existing practices and what is required by law;
  • Long-term storage: Certificates are linked to the duration of carbon storage so as to ensure permanent storage;
  • Sustainability: Carbon removal activities must preserve or contribute to sustainability objectives such as climate change adaptation, circular economy, water and marine resources, and biodiversity.

The proposals have not received much of a welcome from environmental groups. The WWF says the “Commission proposals on the certification of Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) amount to little more than an empty shell, leaving the door wide open to uncertain carbon credits in the land use sector being traded in future under the EU Emission Trading System.” They add that “there is a risk for the framework to be turned into a greenwashing exercise and provide another excuse for big polluters to avoid cutting their emissions.”

Source: EUbusiness

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