Brussels, 18 March 2023 (TDI): European Union (EU) is making tremendous efforts to use forests as carbon sinks to fight climate change. It envisions reducing the carbon footprint by utilizing forest power.

The EU has been at the forefront of launching numerous initiatives to reduce carbon emissions. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere contributes to global warming. The forests are critical to absorbing carbon emissions.

Thus, the EU is drafting rules to increase carbon sinks by relying on forest power. The European Parliament approved new ambitious rules governing the land use, land use change, and forestry sector, in March 2023.

The ambitious rules allowed increasing the EU carbon sinks to 15% by 2030. The rules yet have to be formally approved by the council. It is noteworthy that the EU forests absorb about 7% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions annually.

The EU forests expand over 159 million hectares, covering 43.5 percent of the land mass. Forest coverage, as well, varies substantially from one EU country to another. For example, Malta has 10% while Finland has 70% of its land covered with forests.

Additionally, other than carbon sinks, the forests also serve numerous ecosystem services. The benefits include protecting soil from erosion, forming part of the water cycle, protecting biodiversity, sustaining habitats for diverse species, and balancing the climate.

The forest legislation will increase the EU’s natural carbon sinks by restoring wetlands and bogs, setting up new forests, and reducing deforestation.

The ambitious plan will enable a huge reduction of EU emissions by 57% by 2030, as compared to the 55% aimed previously.

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The reduction will account for the removal of CO2 equivalent to 310 million tons.
The EU will have nationally binding 2030 targets from 2026 onwards.

The targets envisage removal and emissions from the land use, land use change, and forestry sector based on recent removal levels and potential for further removal.

Meanwhile, the EU countries will have to keep the emissions under control and let them not exceed the amount that has already been removed.

The new legislation will also ensure improved monitoring and flexibility for member states, including redressal measures if countries have been affected by natural disasters such as wildfires, storms, pests, and others.

The revision of land use and forestry rules is part of the Fit for 55 packages aimed at achieving the EU target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, as set in the Climate Law.

The package further includes legislation on proposals on emission trading, effort sharing between EU countries, car emissions, renewable energy, and energy saving.