Strasbourg, 20 May 2022 (TDI): The European Union (EU) Parliament is amending rules relating to land use so that agricultural land and forests are able to capture more carbon.

By doing so the EU intends to utilize forests as carbon sinks because of the power of forests to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2).

This is for fighting climate change and reducing carbon footprint even further because CO2 from the atmosphere is absorbed, thereby, forests play a crucial role in fighting against climate change.

Due to this, the EU has launched various initiatives for reducing emissions, it is working on rules to maximize its carbon sinks.

Subsequently, the Parliament’s environment committee voted in support of an update of the rules that govern the land use, land use change, and forestry (LULUCF) sector on the 17th of May. More to this, in June, the MEPs will vote on the updated rules.

Key facts on the importance of forests in the EU

Above all, the equivalent of 7% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions every year is absorbed by EU forests. As forest coverage varies considerably from one EU country to another, the EU boasts 159 million hectares of forest and it covers 43.5% of land area.

In relation to being carbon sinks, the forests offer many ecosystem services. Firstly, forests help in protecting the soil from erosion.

Secondly, they form part of the water cycle. Thirdly, forests protect biodiversity by providing many species’ habitats and regulating the local climate.

Impact of this Legislation

The revision of plans relates to the land use, land use change, and the forestry sector, which covers mainly forest land, agricultural land, and land use that has changed to, or from, one of the mentioned uses.

Therefore, this sector emits greenhouse gases for instance through land-use changes, particularly, when forests are utilized for arable land, trees are cut, or due to the livestock on agricultural land. It is regarded as the only sector able to remove CO2 principally through forests.

Parliament Propositions

Propositions made by the Parliament are for strengthening the capacity of capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. For instance restoring wetlands and bogs, planting new forests, and stopping deforestation. It would lead to a greater reduction of EU emissions than the target set for 2030 of 55%.

Furthermore, the Parliament wants the European Commission to set specific targets for EU countries on the absorption of CO2, land use, land use change, and forestry sector every five years beginning from 2035. In conclusion, the priority remains on drastically cutting emissions from other sectors.

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