EU forests and the forest sector play a significant role in the EU greenhouse gas balance. These forests and their products reduce emissions, enhance sinks, store carbon and provide a continuous stream of ecosystem services, including wood products, energy and biodiversity conservation. EU forests and the forest sector currently produce an overall climate mitigation impact that amounts to about 13% of the total EU emissions.
A new bottom-up approach to mitigation commitments has emerged in the UNFCCC climate negotiations process, opening the way to greater flexibility. New data has also enabled scientists to understand how to better use the forest sector in tackling climate change. This means that there is great scope to enhance the role of EU forests in tackling climate change.
The EU has already decided that emissions and removals from Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) will be included in its 2030 climate policy framework, with a decision on exactly how to do so expected in 2016. The European Forest Institute (EFI) From Science to Policy study “A new role for forests and the forest sector in the EU post-2020 climate targets”, aims to support EU policy makers in answering this complex question.
It concludes that with the right incentives and investments, a significant contribution can be expected from EU forests, forestry and the forest-based industries. There could be a combined, additional effect on top of the existing sink and substitution of as much as 9% of current EU CO2 emissions – some 400 Mt CO2/y by 2030.
The study will be published and its main outcomes discussed at the ThinkForest side-event ‘Climate policy targets: how can forests contribute?’ at the COP21 climate negotiations in Paris on 1 December 2015. For more information: visit the European Forest Institute.