EU land and forests can help EU be more ambitious on climate, new study shows


As the ratification process for the Paris Agreement begins, a new study shows how the EU’s new policy on land and forests is essential to curb climate change given the Commission’s reluctance to increase climate targets. In the study, Oeko-Institut and forest and rights NGO Fern suggest the EU could set a positive precedent for international climate policy if they developed a separate pillar with its own target for the so called ‘LULUCF’ sector. 

LULUCF covers land use, land-use change and forests and is one of the most hotly debated topics of the EU’s climate and energy package. The European Commission will shortly publish a proposal for how to integrate LULUCF in the climate package.

The new ambitious temperature target in the Paris Agreement also means that more must be done to protect and restore forests and land that store CO2. At the same time, the EU must do much more to cut greenhouse gases.

Hannes Boettcher senior researcher at Oeko-Institut and lead author of the study said: “LULUCF is at a crossroads – depending on how rules are set and where it is integrated in the overall package, it could either increase or decrease the EU’s greenhouse gas target. In this study, we suggest developing a separate pillar with specific criteria the EU could use to design a meaningful target to incentivise better climate performance in LULUCF.”

Creating a separate pillar would prevent the EU from using temporary carbon removals from forests and land to dilute the Effort Sharing Decision. Previous research from the Oeko-Institut had shown that adding LULUCF to the Effort Sharing Decision could weaken it by up to 65 per cent.

Fern’s forest and climate campaigner, Hannah Mowat, welcomes this research: “As every year is hotter than the last, Fern believes we need action on all fronts, reducing emissions and restoring degraded landscapes. Our policies need to reflect that. This needs to be done with and by local communities who are affected by land use decisions and have the right to be involved.”

This research complements other reports being released today that look into how the EU can increase climate ambition in the short term, such as by increasing the energy efficiency target or safeguarding the integrity of the Effort Sharing Decision to focus exclusively emissions reductions.

Further Information:

Study „Going beyond 40% – options to ensure LULUCF maintains high environmental integrity of the EU climate and energy package“ by Oeko-Institut

Contact at Oeko-Institut:

Dr. Hannes Böttcher
Senior Researcher in Energy & Climate Division
Oeko-Institut (Institute for Applied Ecology), Berlin office
Phone: ++49 30 405085-389

Contact at Fern:

Hannah Mowat
Forests and climate campaigner
Fern, Brussels
Phone: ++32 485 025 432