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Europe moves closer to pioneering framework to certify carbon removals

October 24, 2023 Work Area: Carbon Capture

Brussels – Today, the European Parliament Committee on the Environment (ENVI) adopted changes to the Carbon Removal Certification Framework (CRCF) which have considerably strengthened the framework and put the European Union in a position to set a global benchmark on carbon removal regulation. 

“The amendments adopted by ENVI are encouraging and would fortify the framework significantly,” said Codie Rossi, Policy Associate, Carbon Capture at Clean Air Task Force. “By distinguishing between removal activities, adding robust liability measures, and mandating comprehensive details in a publicly accessible registry, the framework would be a much-needed step towards proper governance of the fast-emerging negative emissions sector.”  

These revisions will help to ensure that certified carbon removal activities in the framework are real, verifiable and meaningfully contribute to the EU’s climate objectives. ENVI’s position pushes European leadership on carbon removals forward by:  

  • Establishing accountability through liability requirements requiring there to always be a liable party to address reversals; 
  • Enhancing transparency and accountability through a detailed registry, including mandating critical details such as how long the carbon is expected to be stored as well as the storage medium; 
  • Strengthening minimum sustainability requirements so that all carbon farming activities as well as carbon storage in products must now provide evidence of having a positive impact on sustainability criteria; 
  • Introducing four distinct units for the certified activities and thereby eliminating potential conflation of fundamentally different activities.  

However, clarity on the end uses of carbon removals generated by activities in this framework is still required, to avoid negative outcomes such as using scientifically unproven units, such as soil carbon sequestration, to offset fossil fuel emissions. . 

“The science is clear; we will need carbon removals to meet our climate objectives. The EU removal certificates must be high-quality, effective in practice, and linked to appropriate use cases or we risk undermining our decarbonisation goals,” said Kathy Fallon, Director of Land Systems at Clean Air Task Force. “The amendments adopted today are a step in the right direction.” 

In May 2022, Clean Air Task Force submitted to the EU Call for Evidence on the EU Certification of Carbon Removals and participated in the European Commission’s CRCF expert groups on carbon farming and industrial removals and called for several of the amendments reflected in today’s agreement. 

The lack of an officially recognised EU-wide framework for certifying carbon removals is an oversight that CATF has noted since 2022. A plethora of voluntary certification mechanisms currently exists, each employing different methodologies and quality standards, which poses a challenge to transparency and, ultimately, undermines the credibility of certified carbon removals.  

The plenary vote for CRCF will be on the 3rd week of November, which will determine the negotiating position for the Parliament to enter inter-institutional negotiations. In the Council, a general approach on the text among EU Member States is expected before the end of the Spanish Presidency in December 2023.  

As a member of the European Commission’s Expert Group on Carbon Removals, CATF will continue to assist and oversee the work of the Expert Group and provide inputs to the future delegated acts that will operationalise the certification methodologies. 

Press Contact  

Rowan Emslie, Communications Director, EU, [email protected], +32 476-97-36-42  

About Clean Air Task Force  

Clean Air Task Force (CATF) is a global nonprofit organization working to safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change by catalyzing the rapid development and deployment of low-carbon energy and other climate-protecting technologies. With 25 years of internationally recognized expertise on climate policy and a fierce commitment to exploring all potential solutions, CATF is a pragmatic, non-ideological advocacy group with the bold ideas needed to address climate change. CATF has offices in Boston, Washington D.C., and Brussels, with staff working virtually around the world.

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