Loophole 1: not counting the climate impact of forest management
When you harvest a large quantity of wood from a forest, it often reduces the forests ability to sequester CO2 – meaning more CO2 in the atmosphere. Many Member States, particularly Finland and France are planning to significantly increase wood harvesting in the next decades (+25% and +33% respectively). This would mean EU forests sequester close to 100 million tons less CO2 in 2030 than today. That would be equivalent to keeping an extra 100 million cars on the road.
Countries including Finland, France, Austria, Sweden, Latvia and Poland do not want to count the climate impact of reducing sequestration which is a main reason why they are near the bottom of the LULUCF ranking. They say that regardless of how much harvesting they undertake, their forests are managed sustainably so they don’t need to account for forest emissions. Scientists agree that increasing harvesting increases CO2 in the atmosphere whereas strong biodiverse forests actually reduce the level of atmospheric carbon. We need honest accounting rules now that incentivise forests to play a positive climate role in the coming decades.
The European Commission proposes that we should account for all increases to atmospheric carbon from harvesting, and Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Belgium, the UK, Luxemburg and Denmark all agree!
Loophole 2: Hiding emissions from bioenergy
When wood is burnt, it emits CO2. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommends that these emissions be counted when the wood is cut rather than when it is burnt, and EU climate legislation agrees. No matter how many millions of tons of CO2 are released by burning bioenergy in industrial installations, the EU Emissions Trading System counts them as zero on the basis that they are accounted for in the LULUCF Regulation. Indeed the LULUCF regulation states “ emissions related to biomass use are reported and accounted for under LULUCF, i.e. biomass use in the energy sector is zero rated. In this way double counting of emissions is avoided”. It is of great concern therefore that countries such as Austria, France and Finland are pushing for emissions from cutting not to be counted (see loophole 1). If they get their way, emissions from bioenergy won’t be counted anywhere!