France Waters Down EU Accounting Rules for Forestry Emissions
France has been working behind the scenes to weaken European Union accounting rules for assessing the carbon impact of forest depletion, according to leaked documents.
“Ahead of an Environment Council meeting on June 19, member states have been proposing tweaks to the framework drawn up by the European Commission for measuring greenhouse gases,” Climate Home reports. In one of the most important areas under discussion, forestry, a French proposal “would allow countries to harvest more trees for bioenergy or toilet paper without recording the climate impact of reducing forest carbon stocks.”
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According to a European Commission impact assessment, carbon storage in the continent’s forests is set to decline 30% between 2005 and 2030, a loss of 112 million tonnes—the equivalent of emissions from 100 million cars. But “the French lobbying has partially succeeded,” writes correspondent Megan Darby, promoting a compromise scheme that “would only count half the decline in carbon storage.”
French environmental groups have written to the country’s new environment minister, longtime green campaigner Nicolas Hulot, asking him to reverse the country’s negotiating position.
“In the forest, the decisions we make today will have far-reaching consequences for the decades to come,” wrote the France Nature Environnement network. “EU accounting rules must fully account for the development of forest carbon sources and sinks to 2030.”
“You cannot be a climate leader unless you champion good rules for forest accounting, too,” added Fern campaigner Hannah Mowat.
“In commercial forests, harvested areas are usually replanted with trees that will absorb carbon dioxide as they grow and eventually balance out the loss,” Darby notes. “But the cycle takes decades, and where plantations replace natural, old-growth forest, it creates a carbon deficit.”
Yet France’s national timber strategy calls for the country to harvest an extra 12 million cubic metres of forest by 2026.