What is it about?
To secure a liveable future, the EU has committed to achieving climate neutrality by 2050. This means we need to drastically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and compensate for residual emissions (e.g. from industry or agriculture) through carbon removals, which means removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the Earth’s atmosphere via natural and technological solutions.
This proposal sets out a voluntary EU-wide framework to certify carbon removals generated in Europe. 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, our 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.
What are high quality carbon removals?
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.
The EU carbon removal certification framework will ensure transparency, environmental integrity, and prevent negative impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems, especially concerning resource or energy-intensive industrial solutions. The objective is to provide assurance about the quality of the carbon removals and make the certification process reliable and trustworthy to combat greenwashing.
How does certification work?
In order to demonstrate that carbon removals comply with the EU quality criteria, 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.
What are the next steps?
The Commission proposal will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council, in line with ordinary legislative procedure. Based on the QU.A.L.ITY criteria, the Commission, supported by an Expert Group, will develop tailored certification methodologies for the different types of carbon removal activities.
Throughout this process, the Commission will continue funding carbon removal action on the ground through the Innovation Fund (which can finance BECCS and DACCS projects, among others), the Common Agricultural Policy, the Regional Development Fund, the LIFE programme and the Horizon Europe programme (including the Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’).