LULUCF – forests should not have to compensate for continued fossil emissions

It will be impossible to reduce fossil emissions if availability of renewable raw materials decreases. The European Commission’s proposed revision of the LULUCF Regulation entails a reduction in Swedish forest harvests with approximately 15%.

The European Commission proposes national targets for carbon sinks, with Sweden serving as the Union’s largest carbon sink. The Swedish carbon sink is to increase by approximately 30% by 2030, from about 37 million tonnes a year at present to 47 million tonnes a year. In practice, achieving this goal in the very short time frame until 2030 means that forest harvests would need to decrease by around 15 % in Sweden.

The proposal demonstrates a lack of understanding for the overall climate benefits of forests and forest-based products. Every year, as much as 42 million tonnes of fossil carbon dioxide can stay in the ground thanks to the use of wood products, fibre-based products and renewable energy from Swedish forests, instead of equivalent products of oil and coal. A 15% reduction in harvesting of Sweden’s forests would lead to a about 6 million extra tonnes of carbon dioxide a year being released into the atmosphere if forest-based products are replaced with fossil products, which is a reasonable assumption, at least in the short term. Products and energy from forests are therefore just as central to climate change mitigation as large and growing forests that absorb and store carbon dioxide.

The Swedish Forest Industries believe:

  • It will be impossible to reduce fossil emissions if the availability of renewable raw materials decreases.
  • Swedish forests should not have to compensate for continued fossil emissions in other countries and sectors.
  • Forests need to be actively managed to sequester carbon that can be further stored in wood products and substitute fossil resources.
  • EU Member States should have the decision making power over their own natural resources.

The Swedish Forest Industries suggest the following amendments to the proposal:

  • For a long-term sustainable climate policy: Focus on increased growth in forests combined with targets for increased substitution of fossil materials.
  • Reject the proposal on binding national targets for increased carbon sinks aimed at compensating for emissions from other sectors.
  • Maintain the pressure on reducing fossil emissions by harmonising LULUCF with the European Climate Law

*LULUCF = Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry. A regulation setting out rules for the carbon dioxide removals and emissions from land use and forestry.