MEPs on the European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development have called for the implementation of a certification framework for carbon farming. The committee adopted an opinion on a voluntary framework for carbon removal across Europe, proposed by the European Commission last year. The opinion was adopted by 31 votes to six, with two abstentions. Carbon farming aims to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and store it in soils, while also rewarding farmers for reducing emissions and increasing carbon sequestration.
The MEPs have proposed amendments to the commission’s proposal, specifically including carbon farming in the framework in order to facilitate the deployment of carbon removal techniques. They argue that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction linked to land and forest management, as well as farming and animal husbandry practices, should be considered as carbon removal activities. The committee also seeks to reward farmers for their carbon removal efforts, with additional incentives for co-benefits such as biodiversity protection and sustainable water use.
According to the committee’s opinion, a permanent carbon removal activity should have a “neutral” impact or generate co-benefits for agricultural productivity and farmer income. MEP Sean Kelly, who is the lead negotiator for the European People’s Party (EPP) group on the framework in the parliament’s energy committee, welcomed the vote. He stated, “This is another important step in certifying carbon removal at the farming level and should eventually lead to monetization on behalf of farmers. The agricultural sector has faced considerable criticism without recognition given to the amount of carbon stored and efforts being made to reduce emissions across the board.”
However, both the agriculture and energy committees can only provide their opinions on the proposed framework. The lead committee on the framework is the environment committee, which will vote on a full report in October 2023. If adopted, the report will then be voted on by the full parliament. Discussions between the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the Council will follow.