EU Leaders Reach Agreement to Establish Carbon Removals Framework

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by | Feb 22, 2024

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European Union negotiators from the Council and Parliament have reached a provisional political agreement to establish the first EU-level certification framework for permanent carbon removals, carbon farming, and carbon storage in products.

The regulation, once implemented, would be the first step toward introducing a comprehensive carbon removal and soil emission reduction framework in EU legislation. The framework aims to accelerate the deployment of carbon removal and soil emission reduction activities in the EU, which has a goal of reaching climate neutrality by 2050. The agreement is provisional and will have to be formally adopted by both institutions.

Carbon removals will help abate hard-to-decarbonize industries and areas of the EU economy. The EU has an open definition of carbon removals, covering: 

  • Permanent carbon removal by storing atmospheric or biogenic carbon for several centuries
  • Temporary carbon storage in long-lasting products for at least 35 years and can be monitored
  • Temporary carbon storage from carbon farming, including restoring forests and soil, wetlands, seagrass meadows
  • Soil emission reduction from carbon farming, including carbon and nitrous oxide reductions from soil management

The agreement extends the Commission’s proposal and scope of the regulation to soil emission reductions, of which activities must last at least five years to be certified. Activities that do not result in carbon removals or soil emission reduction are not within the scope of the regulation.

As part of the agreement, the Commission must produce a report by 2026 on the feasibility of certifying activities that result in the reduction of emissions other than those related to soils. The report will be based on a pilot certification methodology for activities, and the Commission will develop tailored certification methodologies for different types of carbon removal activities with the help of an expert group. Carbon removal activities need to hit four criteria to be certified: quantification, additionality, long-term storage, and sustainability.

The agreement also directs the Commission to establish a common and transparent electronic EU-wide registry four years after the entry into force of the regulation on the certification and units publicly available and accessible, including certificates of compliance and summaries of certification audits.

The regulation designated steps for establishing monitoring obligations and liability rules for operators, which the Commission must develop when creating the certification methodologies. The regulation will next be submitted for endorsement to the member states’ representatives in the Council and Parliament’s environment committee.

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