March 13, 2012
The draft law is consistent with carbon accounting rules agreed upon during last year's climate talks in Durban, South Africa.
"What we propose today is harmonized rules to account for forests and [agricultural] emissions," said Connie Hedegaard, E.U. Commissioner for Climate Action, in a statement. "This is the first step to incorporate these sectors into the EU's reduction efforts."
"The proposal will also contribute to protect biodiversity and water resources, support rural development and have a more climate-friendly agriculture."
The European Commission will not immediately include agriculture and forestry in its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which is the world's largest system for compliance-level carbon offsets. Globally, land use — including deforestation, forest degradation through logging, peatlands drainage, and agriculture — are thought to account for roughly a fifth of carbon emissions.
Should Europe move on the emissions accounting proposal, it would become more difficult for tropical countries to claim their agricultural products are unfairly restricted due to concerns over climate change. For example, Europe would have the data to show whether or not locally produced biofuels result in emissions savings relative to imported feedstocks like Brazilian sugar cane and Malaysian palm oil. At the same time, often overlooked emissions sources in Europe — like peatlands degradation from logging — should finally be recognized and accounted for.