By Jenny Brunton, Senior European Policy Advisor, British Agriculture Bureau
The proposal aims at establishing an EU-wide voluntary framework for the certification of carbon removals, the first of its kind. In particular, the voluntary framework on carbon removal certification would require the relevant removal activities to provide for net carbon removal benefits according to a specific formula. Moreover, it would aim at ensuring that carbon removals are additional, store carbon in the long-term, and do not hinder concrete sustainability objectives. The proposal would also lay down rules for the certification of carbon removals by certification bodies appointed by public or private certification schemes recognised by the Commission. It sets out criteria to define high-quality carbon removals and the process to monitor, report and verify the authenticity of these removals. With this certification framework, the aim is to boost innovative carbon removal technologies and sustainable carbon farming solutions, while fighting greenwashing.
There are several ways to remove and store carbon. All can be certified under the EU’s framework:
- Nature-based solutions, such as restoring forests, soils, and innovative farming practices
- Technology, such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, or direct air carbon capture and storage
- Long-lasting products and materials, such as wood-based construction.
To receive certification, the carbon removals will need to be correctly quantified, deliver additional climate benefits, strive to store carbon for a long time, prevent carbon leaks, and contribute to sustainability. The proposal also sets out requirements for third party verification and certification of carbon removals, in order to harmonise the certification process, ensure environmental integrity and build public trust.
The EU certification of carbon removals will be developed in two steps. Firstly, the Commission will set up high-level quality criteria under the proposed Regulation. Secondly, the Commission will approve detailed certification rules for the measurement, monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon removals from both industrial and nature-based activities.
Operators of carbon removal activities will need to apply to a public or private certification scheme that has been recognised or approved by the Commission. The activities of carbon removal operators will be regularly verified and certified by independent certification bodies that will check compliance with EU rules. This process will result in the issuing of certificates of compliance and in the recording of carbon removal units in public registries managed by certification schemes.