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EU leaders secure provisional deal on pioneering Carbon Removals Certification Framework 

February 20, 2024 Work Area: Carbon Capture

Brussels – Today, the EU Institutions reached a provisional political agreement on a regulation establishing a Union certification framework for carbon removals and soil emission reductions, one of the final pieces of this term’s European Green Deal agenda. This voluntary EU-wide initiative is designed to validate carbon removals, carbon farming and soil emission reduction activities in the EU, ensuring they are high-quality, measurable, and align with the EU’s climate goals. As outlined in the 2040 target, 300 million tonnes of carbon removals will be required by 2040. 
Alejandra Muñoz Castañer, Europe’s Government Affairs Manager at CATF, stated, “This agreement is the first step in establishing a reliable and transparent system for certifying carbon removals. However, with the use cases of units left to be determined by upcoming legislation, there is still a tangible risk they contribute to mitigation deterrence.” 

The agreement introduced several key improvements following the trilogue negotiations: 

  • Definitions. The definition of carbon removal now aligns with that of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) by excluding emissions reductions. 
  • Scope. The introduction of four distinct units for four categories of activities (permanent carbon removal, temporary carbon storage in long-lasting products, temporary carbon storage from carbon farming and soil emission reductions) will allow them to be tracked more effectively and use cases to be properly assigned. 
  • Liability. The agreement calls on the Commission to include clear liability mechanisms when developing the certification methodologies. This element is key, ensuring operators will be liable and accountable if any carbon is released back into the atmosphere (a reversal), during the monitoring period for carbon farming activities. Permanent carbon removals must abide by the provisions in the Directive on the geological storage of carbon dioxide.
  • EU Registry. Four years after the entry into force of the regulation, the Commission shall establish a public EU-wide registry which includes key meta-data on certified activities, improving accessibility, transparency and accountability.  This is to be funded by annual user fees.  
  • Use cases. The agreement includes a linkage on the use of units to rules in the proposed Green Claims Directive and the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. The use purpose of units must also be disclosed in the EU registry, such as if it is retired to make a climate claim. Additionally, units can only be used for advancing the EU’s climate objectives and nationally determined contribution (NDC) and must not count towards those of third countries or international compliance schemes. 
  • Sustainability requirements. The minimum sustainability requirements have been strengthened so that all carbon farming activities must now provide evidence of having at least a biodiversity co-benefit. 

 “As a next step, it will be critical for the EU’s Expert Group to ensure that the certification methodologies uphold quality standards and that forthcoming legislation, such as the proposal on Green Claims, define the eligible use cases for certified units,” said Kathy Fallon, Land Systems Director at CATF. 

Codie Rossi, Policy Associate, Carbon Capture at CATF added that “Carbon removals are essential for climate neutrality and negative emissions. While not perfect, this framework should bring much needed standardisation and accountability to a largely unregulated sector.” 

The trilogue agreement will now need to receive the final green light from the Member States and the European Parliament’s ENVI Committee, before the European elections. As a member of the European Commission’s Expert Group on Carbon Removals, CATF will continue to provide inputs to inform the future delegated acts that will operationalise the certification methodologies for carbon removal activities. 

Contacto con la prensa

Julia Kislitsyna, Communications Manager – Europe, +49 151 16 220 453, [email protected]

Acerca de 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 more than 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. Visit and follow @cleanaircatf. 

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