angle-left EU agreed on including the land use sector (LULUCF) in the 2030 climate policy targets

EU agreed on including the land use sector (LULUCF) in the 2030 climate policy targets

Photo: Finland's environmental administration
Metsä (Kuva: ympäristöhallinto)

On 14 December the trilogue between the EU Member States, the Commission and Parliament reached a preliminary agreement on the LULUCF Regulation, i.e. how carbon sinks and emissions caused by the use of forests and lands are taken into account in the EU's climate policy targets to 2030. "We found support for the active role of forest management in climate policy", commented Minister Kimmo Tiilikainen.

Press release of the Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry

The main issue to be negotiated for the Regulation on land use, land use change and forestry concerned the accounting rules for forests. According to the decision, each Member State uses the agreed criteria to set a reference level for forest land for the periods 2021-2025 and 2026-2030. The reference level is not based on the earlier forest use intensity, but the criterion is concerned with maintaining and strengthening the carbon sequestration capacity of forests in the long term, as set out in the Paris Agreement.   The reference levels will be assessed by experts from the European Commission and Member States during 2019.

"I am very happy that the Regulation now takes account of the future development, age class structure and other characteristics of forests. Our basic idea of good and balanced management of forests and carbon sinks is now well written in the decision", says Kimmo Tiilikainen, Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing of Finland.

"The Regulation is also well in line with the Paris Agreement. The criteria and conditions are now such that Finland is still an attractive place for investing in sustainable forestry and bioeconomy", Tiilikainen says.

The calculated benefit from the forest carbon sink is strictly limited by a ceiling fixed to the emissions in the basic year. What this means in practice is that the forest sink cannot be used up to the maximum to offset emissions caused by other land uses. As a highly forested country Finland received a special allowance (up to 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) which may be used, where necessary, to offset emissions caused by land use change.

The land use sector is highly significant in terms of Finland's emission and carbon balances as the sinks correspond to about 20 to 50 per cent of the emissions of other sectors.

The LULUCF Regulation, together with the Emissions Trading Directive and the Effort Sharing Regulation that is still under preparation, constitute the EU's contribution to implementing the Paris Climate Change Agreement and guide the EU climate policy for 2021-2030. The EU has committed to a reduction in the total emissions by 40 per cent from the 1990 levels by 2030.

No agreement yet on emission reduction obligations and effort sharing

The trilogue on the Effort Sharing Regulation started on Wednesday 13 December and continued long in the morning on Thursday, but no agreement was reached on certain details. The main stumbling block was the tightening of the annual emission reduction pathway. The negotiations will continue under the Bulgarian Presidency next year.

"It is truly regrettable that we were not able to bring the negotiations to a conclusion, but I am confident that an agreement will be reached early next year. The Effort Sharing Regulation is most important to fulfil the obligations set for the EU in the Paris Agreement", Tiilikainen says.

More information:

Taru Savolainen, Special Adviser to Minister Tiilikainen, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 40 535 8622, [email protected]

Heikki Granholm, Director, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 29 516 2130, [email protected]

Jaakko Kuisma, Senior Specialist, Permanent Representation of Finland to the EU, tel. +32 473 532 399, [email protected]

Tuija Talsi, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 29 525 0285, [email protected] (Effort Sharing Regulation)

EU Council:Mitigating climate change through well-managed EU forests and land: a provisional agreement with Parliament