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EU Milestone: Carbon Removal Legislation Clears Parliament Vote

The European Parliament achieved a significant milestone on Tuesday with the approval of the Carbon Removal Certification Framework (CRCF), marking the first-ever government legislation globally focused on defining and certifying carbon removals. The draft, championed by MEP Lidia Pereira, garnered overwhelming support, securing 448 votes in favor, with 65 against and 114 abstaining.

Pereira's proposal introduces two additional categories, namely carbon farming and carbon storage in products, alongside the initial carbon removal definition outlined by the European Commission. Emphasizing the need for transparency, the legislation specifies that these categories must remain distinct, ensuring accurate information within the certification.

Despite some proposed amendments, market participants expressed relief, noting that a broad range of agricultural activities could have diluted the legislation's effectiveness in addressing the climate crisis.

NGOs acknowledged the progress made in establishing a more robust framework, citing the introduction of four distinct certified unit types. These units aim to clarify the distinction between carbon removal and emissions reductions, accompanied by crucial information in the EU Registry and strengthened liability requirements.

However, challenges remain as negotiations progress. The Council of member states recently adopted its negotiating mandate, setting the stage for reconciliation talks with the Parliament. Critics, have raised concerns about vague terminology, potential double counting, and the inclusion of various removal methods, urging a careful approach in the upcoming trilogue negotiations.

As discussions unfold, the focus will be on ensuring the CRCF avoids greenwashing and genuinely contributes to climate targets. Stakeholders, stress the importance of prioritizing real climate solutions that benefit biodiversity and ecosystems, cautioning against rushing the certification process.

With negotiations set to begin before the year's end, an agreement on the CRCF is anticipated by mid-March 2024. The legislation's passage coincided with other environmental initiatives, including strengthened CO2 emission standards for new heavy-duty vehicles and the Net Zero Industry Act, signaling a comprehensive commitment to environmental sustainability in the EU.

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