European forests can compensate up to 22% of EU total greenhouse gas emissions: climate smart forestry

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European forests can compensate up to 22% of EU total greenhouse gas emissions: climate-smart forestry

In all their varity, it is estimated that EU forests and the forest sector currently produce an overall climate mitigation impact that amounts to about 13% of the total EU emissions. This includes both the forests and harvested wood products as a carbon sink, as well as the substitution effect of forest products for materials and bioenergy. With the right incentives and investments, a significant additional contribution can be expected from EU forests, forestry and the forest-based industries.

Over the past two decades, the mitigation potential of forests and the forest sector has been progressively included in the international climate regime. Existing rules are rather complicated and provide limited incentives for mitigation in the forest sector in developed countries. But as the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol negotiate a new climate agreement to be adopted in Paris in December 2015, a new bottom-up approach to emission reduction commitments has emerged. This has opened the door to new approaches for using the forest sector’s mitigation potential. Better use of this potential could also provide a host of additional benefits, including revenue-generation and biodiversity conservation.

The EU has already decided that emissions and removals from Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) are to be included in its 2030 climate policy framework, with a decision on exactly how to do so expected in late 2017. This study aimed to support EU policy-makers in answering this complex question by:

• Determining whether and how to use forests’ sinks and substitution effects as a means to meet the EU’s post-2020 targets, without decreasing the overall level of ambition,

• Identifying new principles and measures to reap the potential of the forest sector to contribute to climate change mitigation in the EU, in synergy with other regional priorities in the land use sector.

Impacts of Climate Smart Forestry in three case studies

This EFI White Paper ‘A new role for forests and the forest sector in the EU post-2020 climate targets’ on Climate-Smart Forestry by Prof. Gert-Jan Nabuurs is a follow-up to the 2015 From Science To Policy study, A new role for forests and the forest sector in the EU post-2020 climate targets. It considers the mitigation impacts of Climate-Smart Forestry in three case study areas in Europe: Spain, Czech Republic and Ireland.