EU Urged to Allow Forest Carbon Sinks to Offset Ireland’s Emissions

The European Union should agree that forest carbon sinks can be used to offset Ireland’s non-Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) emissions, a new report from the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security and the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Food has recommended.

In a report on the European Commission’s Green Paper on Protecting Europe’s Forests Against Climate Change, the Committees said that as forestry, land use and farming are all part of the same climate equation this linkage should be recognised in relation to the EU’s Forestry Policy, CAP reform post-2013, and – in particular – the EU’s climate change strategy.

The Committees recommend that the Commission should bring forward an EU Directive setting out the framework conditions for the setting up of a national programme for forest carbon offsets.

In the context of meeting the EU’s Renewable Energy Sources (RES) targets, more attention should be given to wood biomass, according to the submission.

In addition, and as part of the debate on CAP reform post-2012, the Commission should make specific recommendations about providing higher levels of EU co-financing for afforestation under the EU’s Rural Development Programme post-2012, it says.

Forestry Should be Part of Any Solution

According to the author of the submission, Andrew Doyle, TD: “For Ireland to meet its climate change obligations it is essential that its forestry sector is part of any solution. This will ultimately allow Ireland to develop a forestry sector that will put it on par with its European counterparts, both in terms of the percentage of land cover and the need to build up an indigenous industry with a plentiful supply of raw material.”

There is now a much better appreciation that forest sinks should have a greater contribution as regards national efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, the latest assessment by the European Commission of the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector does not recommend that LULUCF activities contribute to compliance under the EU’s 2020 climate change and renewable energy package.

He continues: “While this may well suit the majority of Member States, the situation in Ireland is different and requires a more flexible approach as a consequence. If EU policy on LULUCF were to change there could be a significant up-lift in current afforestation levels. In particular, forest carbon offset schemes should be provided for in the context of the EU’s evolving climate change strategy.”

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