© malp - stock.adobe.com

© malp - stock.adobe.com

Economic Affairs and Climate State Secretary Sven Giegold said: “It is crucial to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but it is no longer enough. If we are to meet the 1.5 degree target, we will need to remove additional volumes of CO2 from the atmosphere in the EU. This must be done in compliance with stringent and transparent criteria in order to set the right incentives for sustainable carbon removal. It is therefore all the more important that the European Commission has now presented a first proposal for European rules on carbon removals. It is clear that some issues still need to be resolved. The Federal Government will now take a close look at the proposal.”

Environment State Secretary Stefan Tidow added: “The draft still needs to be fleshed out and developed further so that we can be sure that we mitigate climate change and protect biodiversity. We need a long-term transition in the agriculture sector towards farming methods that are lasting, mitigate global warming, and make environmental sense. It is important to avoid misplaced incentives which further weaken the ability of natural ecosystems to fight climate change. We will measure the certification system against these benchmarks and work to ensure it meets these requirements.”

Agriculture State Secretary Silvia Bender commented: “Strengthening the natural systems to store carbon in farmed soils, wetlands and forests is a priority for us. Much work still remains to be done here. We aim to ensure that the regulation will bring about major progress. It is essential for us to meet the climate targets in the land-use sector in the interest of stable harvests and intact forests, and thus of our food and timber supply.”

The European Commission’s proposal restricts itself to the certification of carbon removals without providing any details of how the incentive systems should be designed. The question of whether or how certificates can be used to compensate for emissions remains open. The proposal sketches out four quality criteria (quantification, additionality, long-term storage and sustainability) as fundamental preconditions for the certification of carbon removals and the certification process.

The draft currently leaves key questions open. In particular, it is necessary to ensure that only sustainable removal activities are certified, and that misplaced incentives and detrimental effects on the natural ecosystems are avoided. Basically, high and robust standards for removals must apply, and double counting must be avoided. These and other questions will now need to be clarified so that the system fosters climate action and the attainment of other sustainability goals, particularly the upholding of biodiversity, and also sets new standards for the rest of the world.

It is also clear that it will continue to be necessary to dramatically reduce emissions so that we can become carbon-neutral. However, it is additionally necessary to focus more on the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere in order to offset unavoidable residual emissions. These residual emissions are to be offset for example by the removal of carbon from the atmosphere and storage in geological formations, ecosystems and durable environmentally friendly products. Germany has committed to greenhouse gas neutrality in 2045; the EU’s target is 2050. The aim after 2050 is for Germany to have a negative greenhouse gas footprint.