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LEAK: EU strategy seeks to remove carbon from atmosphere

LEAK: EU strategy seeks to remove carbon from atmosphere

The European Commission will reward green farming practices like afforestation and soil conservation while putting rules to identify activities that “unambiguously remove carbon from the atmosphere” under draft proposals seen by EURACTIV.

A draft EU carbon strategy, first obtained by French news site Contexte, aims to contribute towards the EU’s climate effort by removing CO2 from the atmosphere and “pave the way for a policy of negative emissions in the future”.

The European Climate Law, approved earlier this year, requires that any carbon emissions remaining in Europe by 2050 are to be balanced by removals, “with the aim to achieve negative emissions thereafter,” says the paper.

The EU strategy on “sustainable carbon cycles,” due to be released on 14 December, takes this objective one step further by putting forward plans “to upscale carbon removal solutions that capture CO2 from the atmosphere and store it for the long term”.

This can be done “either in ecosystems through nature-based solutions or in other storage forms through industrial solutions” like carbon capture and storage, says the Commission paper.

Oil and gas companies have been at the forefront of calls to ramp up carbon dioxide removals, attracting criticism from green activists who say they are looking for ways to shirk their responsibility in cutting emissions.

But advocates say carbon removal technologies will eventually be needed because emissions from parts of industry and agriculture will be impossible to eliminate.

Even if nations succeed at cutting CO2 in accordance with the Paris Agreement, there will still be “residual emissions” after 2050 when Europe is supposed to achieve climate neutrality, said Oliver Geden, a German scientist who is one of the lead authors behind the sixth assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).