On September 19th, CLC organized an event in Brussels to present and discuss its position paper on carbon removals and to continue fostering the debate on why EU countries need a holistic land use plan to improve nature-based carbon sequestration across Europe.  

The event counted with the valuable participation of Christian Holzleitner (DG CLIMA’s Head of Unit for Land Economy and Carbon Removals) and Nils Torvalds (Member of the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment), and was moderated by Tuuli Kaskinen, CEO of CLC.  

 

A forum to discuss CLC’s perspective with EU policy makers 

This event in Brussels launched CLC’s strategy for next summer’s European elections. Therefore, it started with a presentation by Henrik Ehrnrooth (Co-chair of CLC’s Advisory Board) of CLC’s position on what should be the core priorities of the next European Commission regarding natural carbon removals. Among these, he emphasized the need to improve the condition and health of European forests, as well as to apply science-based measures to secure the short and long-term carbon sequestration potential of the European land use sector. To this end, he specifically recognized the expertise that Nordic companies, cities, and universities can provide to European decision-makers.  

After this, Juha Turkki (Development Director at CLC) briefly presented CLC’s position paper. Most importantly, he raised attention to the fact that, although carbon sequestration must play a key role in achieving the EU’s climate targets for 2040, European nature-based carbon sinks have followed a downward trend during the last decade. Moreover, he pointed out that, unless urgent action and a more holistic approach is adopted, the future outlook is even more worrisome, as other challenges will put additional pressure on the ability of European forests to sequester carbon (e.g., increased demand of land, destabilizing effects of climate change etc). 

 

Panel discussion 

During his intervention, Christian Holzleitner welcomed CLC’s recommendations and celebrated that they align with the European Commission’s viewpoint. In particular, he agreed that, while emission reduction remains the absolute priority, it is also essential to enhance carbon sequestration solutions. To achieve this, he identified the need to improve ways to measure agricultural and forestry emissions and to systematically monitor carbon sequestration performance. As Mr. Holzleitner indicated “what cannot be measured, won’t be done” and “the knowledge and the technology are out there, now it’s about implementing”. 

Next, panelists discussed the importance of extending land-use emission planning beyond 2050 and of developing a long-term vision for the agriculture and forestry sectors. In line with the recommendations included in CLC’s position paper, they concluded that predictability both in terms of emissions projections and policy developments is fundamental to ensure appropriate future investment. Only under the right degree of legal and economic certainty will farmers be encouraged to shift to more sustainable practices, such as agroforestry and other forms of mixed farming. 

To further increase the support for the development of the bioeconomy and of climate-positive value chains, the establishment of an incentive framework for landowners was also addressed. It will be the responsibility of the next Commission to establish said incentives in a transparent way and with the help of experts, so as to ensure that they are simple and accessible. These incentives must consider all the steps of value chains to foster “an economy that works for the climate” and must include strict verifiability rules. 

Lastly, panelists debated how to make biodiversity considerations a more integral part of land use and carbon removal policies. This concern aligns with CLC’s recent decision to upgrade biodiversity protection to the same level as climate change mitigation within its core missions. Answering to the question, Nils Torvalds pointed out that biodiversity is very different in each member State, and therefore the European Commission should avoid applying a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Instead, he argued that national governments should be trusted to develop their own initiatives to accommodate to their individual circumstances and needs – but that they also need to stand up to this trust. 

 

For more information on land use topics, please contact CLC Development Director, Juha Turkki, juha.turkki@clc.fi.