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Climate Action

Carbon farming and carbon storage in products

The land sector plays a vital role in achieving the EU’s 2050 climate neutrality target by capturing CO2 and storing it in soils and biomass.

The land sector plays a vital role in achieving the EU’s 2050 climate neutrality target by capturing CO2 and storing it in soils and biomass. However, the land sector is also particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and it can be a source of emissions, especially when soils are degraded. This is why the EU is supporting innovative approaches such as carbon farming to promote sustainable and resilient practices in the agriculture and forestry sectors.

Carbon farming

What is carbon farming?

Carbon farming is a way to reward farmers and foresters for implementing climate-friendly practices that enhance carbon sequestration and storage in forests and soils, or that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from soils. As a result, additional incentives will complement the incomes of farmers and foresters and make a wide array of sustainable practices more attractive. Examples of effective carbon farming practices include:

  • Rewetting and restoring peatlands and wetlands to reduce carbon oxidation and increase carbon sequestration potential.
  • Agroforestry and mixed farming, integrating trees or shrubs with crop and/or animal production.
  • Implementing catch crops, cover crops, conservation tillage, and landscape features to protect soils and enhance soil organic carbon.
  • Reforestation respecting ecological principles for biodiversity and sustainable forest management.
  • Making more efficient use of fertilisers to reduce emissions of nitrous oxide from agricultural soils.

The Commission will assess by 2026 whether to expand the scope of carbon farming to the reduction of greenhouse gases related to livestock activities.

The role of carbon farming in the European Green Deal

The European Climate Law mandates climate neutrality by 2050, requiring significant emission reductions while also scaling up carbon removals. The "Sustainable Carbon Cycles" Communication emphasises the importance of upscaling carbon farming as a green business model. In addition, the Carbon Removal and Carbon Farming (CRCF) Regulation incentivises sustainable practices benefiting biodiversity and carbon storage.  The proposed Soil Monitoring and Forest Monitoring Laws will not only enable action to increase soil health and forest resilience, but also support upscaling of carbon farming business models under the CRCF. A large uptake of carbon farming will facilitate compliance with agreed EU legislation such as the LULUCF Regulation.

Business opportunities for farmers and foresters

Carbon farming presents new economic opportunities for farmers and foresters. By adopting sustainable practices, they can diversify income streams while protecting the environment and improving the economic performance of their land. Standardising monitoring methods will enhance transparency, and increased credibility will facilitate investments in carbon farming.

EU support & funding

Common Agricultural Policy

Under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, a key objective is to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing carbon sequestration. By allocating funds to environmental objectives, the CAP encourages carbon farming and strengthens ties to climate-related legislation.

Horizon Europe

The Commission supports research, development and innovation for carbon farming mainly through Horizon Europe, notably via Cluster 6 (Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment) and the EU Mission “A Soil Deal for Europe”. The CREDIBLE project organises regular Carbon Farming Summits to shape carbon farming markets and policies.

LIFE Programme

The LIFE programme supports many carbon farming projects. One example is the LIFE Carbon Farming project encourages farmers to adopt strategies to reduce their carbon footprint and increase carbon storage in vegetation and soils. 700 farms in six European countries will be monitored over six years to achieve a 15% reduction in their carbon footprint by 2027.

European Regional Development Fund

Among other carbon farming project, the European Regional Development Fund finances the €1.8 million transnational initiative Carbon Farming CE (2023-2026) that aims to facilitate the uptake and upscaling of carbon farming pilots through the Carbon Farming Techniques Guide, the Carbon Farming Business Model Procedures and carbon sequestration monitoring roadmaps. The project involves nine participating countries in central Europe, and eleven project partners.

Carbon storage in products

What is carbon storage in long-lasting products?

Bio-based products, like timber or agricultural crops-based construction materials, offer significant potential for long-lasting carbon storage due to its natural properties as a carbon-sequestering material. By promoting the use of sustainably sourced bio-based materials and employing advanced construction techniques, we can create energy-efficient buildings that serve as carbon sinks throughout their lifecycle.

The revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive allows building owners to declare the carbon storage capacity of their structures on their Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). With the EU CRCF Regulation and the accompanying EU methodology for certifying removals in long-lasting products, building owners will be able provide reliable and transparent evidence of their buildings' carbon storage capacity on their EPC.

The role of carbon storage in long-lasting products in the European Green Deal

The 2030 Forest Strategy, Bioeconomy Strategy, the revised LULUCF Regulation, and the New European Bauhaus highlight the importance of long-lasting carbon storage in construction products and in the built environment.

EU support

Horizon EU

The Horizon Europe work programme for 2023-2024, specifically its Cluster 6 on bioeconomy, features a dedicated call (HORIZON-CL6-2024-CLIMATE-01-5) focusing on the climate-smart use of wood in the construction sector.

New European Bauhaus (NEB)

A priority within the NEB is the integration of long-term, life-cycle thinking in the industrial ecosystem. Emphasising the use of wood as a sustainable material for long-lasting products, the NEB aims to increase its market share in construction.

Circular Bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking

CBE JU is a €2 billion partnership between the EU and the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) which funds projects advancing competitive circular bio-based industries under Horizon Europe, the EU’s research and innovation programme.

European Bioeconomy Network

EuBioNet is an alliance of 150 EU-funded projects and initiatives dealing with Bioeconomy promotion, communication and support. The main goal is to maximise their efforts and increase the knowledge sharing, networking, mutual learning, and coordination of joint activities and events.