Europe and Central Asia

BirdLife Europe & Central Asia - Press statement 13 October 2017

BirdLife Europe statement on the Environment Council’s position on LULUCF 13 October 2017


Environment ministers weaken LULUCF proposal & subsequently EU's efforts to combat climate change

Today the EU’s Environment Ministers decided the Council’s position on the role of land and forests in the EU’s climate mitigation efforts (LULUCF regulation). Ministers voted in favour of maintaining some transparency and integrity in the ways that emissions and removals from forests are accounted for but at the same time they created a loophole allowing countries to reduce their sinks and increase carbon in the atmosphere. 


BirdLife Europe welcomes the fact that, unlike the European Parliament, the Council didn’t further muddle the rules on how to set a reference level to which future emissions and removals on forests such be compared.


“It should now be a priority both for the Council and the Commission to maintain the rules for forest management reference levels in the upcoming negotiations with the Parliament so that at least the EU doesn’t end up hiding massive amounts of emissions in technical accounting rules,” says John Lanchbery from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), BirdLife partner in the UK.


The Council did however introduce a new loophole that allows countries to increase forest harvests and decline their carbon sinks for free – a deal that favours particularly countries like Finland, Sweden, Austria, Latvia and France. In addition, a last minute amendment allows to ignore emissions from deforestation in one single country, Finland, setting a dangerous example internationally.


“It is incredible that forests are given a free licence to reduce their contribution to climate change mitigation while all other sectors are working hard to reduce emission. The other sectors will now have to work even harder to cover up for forests. The Council’s LULUCF decision further increases the need for the EU to ramp up its overall emission reduction targets,” said John Lanchbery.


The Council also agreed to ignore emissions from deforestation in Finland which will definitely make it harder for the EU to be credible in the international climate negotiations when asking other countries to stop deforestation. Hopefully the Parliament and the Commission won’t agree to give up EU’s integrity that easily and to just please one single member state.” said Sini Eräjää, EU bioenergy policy officer, BirdLife Europe.


“Altogether, both Council and the European Parliament positions allow to decline forest carbon sinks without any consequences. This is particularly troublesome given the growing use of wood for ‘renewable energy’. The LULUCF regulation provides no guarantees that bioenergy actually delivers GHG savings, as originally suggested by the Commission. This means that all the three institutions need to go back to the drawing table and introduce safeguards for the climate impacts of bioenergy in the renewable energy policies.” said Sini Eräjää, EU bioenergy policy officer, BirdLife Europe.

For further information, including distribution queries please contact:

Sini Eräjää, EU bioenergy policy officer
BirdLife Europe & Central Asia
Sini.Erajaa@birdlife.org 
+32 (0)476 975 960

John Lanchbery, RSPB
john.lanchbery@rspb.org.uk
+44 1 767 693275