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European Parliament voted in favour of a LULUCF regulation better fit for purpose, but final results still remain uncertain

The European Parliament took a step forward in recognising climate benefits of forestry, but the EU Council agreed on a problematic approach on managed forest land in the proposal on Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF). The final negotiations are currently underway and the decision on the LULUCF dossier is expected by the end of the year.

On 13 September, the European Parliament Plenary voted on the proposal for a Regulation on LULUCF (Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry). The outcome of the vote was a positive step, as the Parliament voted in favour of more dynamic and forward-looking forest reference levels to account for emissions and removals from sustainably managed forests. See the reaction of the European organisations representing the forestry and agriculture sectors as well as woodworking and paper industries here.
In the meeting of the Environment Council of 13 October, Member States reached an agreement on the LULUCF regulation. They have agreed on a so called general approach, which will form the basis for the negotiations with the European Parliament and Commission.
The main disagreement of the Member States concerned the forest reference levels, where they finally agreed on maintaining the approach of the original Commission proposal with reference levels based on past forest management and use – referring to past intensity between 2000-2009. In order to meet the concerns of forest-rich countries they introduced a new “managed forest land flexibility”, to allow countries to continue develop the use of their forest resources. This means that MS that cannot meet their FRL can compensate emissions up to a certain amount. Each MS has an assigned amount of compensation credits, where highly forested and smaller countries get more compensation. It is positive that this would allow certain increase in harvesting beyond past low levels. However, it does not solve the main criticism towards the LULUCF proposal as increased forest harvesting compared to the past, but within sustainable levels, is still seen as something bad from a climate perspective and could be hampered as a result of the regulation. This is in contradiction to the fact that the best long-term climate mitigation and adaptation strategy in forestry is sustainable forest management and use of wood to replace fossil resources.
A few positive points of the Council agreement include:
  • Member State competence over the forest reference level is increased and the Commission cannot re-calculate the reference levels
  • The cap on credits of 3.5% is removed from Harvested Wood Products and Member States are allowed to supplement the product categories
The agreement was reached after lengthy negotiations, and the Presidency introduced an amendment to their initial proposal to take into consideration the concerns of Finland, who was given additional compensation credits. Finland was not happy with the solution however, as the compensation is still not enough to accommodate their foreseen growth of forest-based bioeconomy. Finally, Poland and Croatia did not support the Council agreement and Finland abstained.
The Estonian Presidency aims to reach an agreement on LULUCF before the end of the year. The first trilogue negotiation took place on 19 October, and two more are foreseen with the second one on 22 November.
Please find the Council general approach here.
For more information, please find the position paper under the following link.

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