The European Parliament on April 17 adopted two draft European Union laws. One aims to cut CO2 emitted by transport, farming, buildings and waste by 30% and the other to balance out CO2 emitted and absorbed by forestry and land use by 2030.

According to a European Parliament press release, these cuts will contribute to meeting the EU’s overall collective pledge, under the Paris Agreement on climate change, to deliver a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors, from 1990 levels.

“We have done our best to agree an ambitious European climate action regulation, despite the attempt of many EU governments to undermine ambition,” said lead MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy (ALDE, NL). “Thanks to pressure from the Parliament, we have succeeded in lowering the allowed carbon budget with the emissions of about four million cars. European governments will have to do more, and they will have to do it earlier. Delaying climate action is no longer possible, this regulation requires all governments to speed up green investments to tackle emissions from agriculture, transport, waste and buildings.”

As regards the level of emissions absorbed by forests, EU forests absorb the equivalent of nearly 10% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions each year.

Under the proposed law, EU countries have to ensure that deforestation is balanced by planting new trees. It also sets measures to develop the sector in order to boost CO2 absorption by forests, croplands and grasslands.

According to rapporteur Norbert Lins (EPP, DE), parliament has worked to strike a balance between flexibility and comparable accounting rules for the 28 member states. “I am convinced that we have succeeded in strengthening the bioeconomy – wood for house building, furniture and bioenergy,” he said. “With this legislation we are sending out a signal: we want our forests in Europe to continue to be managed sustainably. We want to continue to maintain strong forestry in Europe.”

The two draft laws have the backing of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Group in the European Parliament.

“We as a group delivered on our red lines: The reference period is clearly set in the past and wetlands, including peatlands, are recognised as being of key importance,” said Paul Brannen, S&D MEP. “We also managed to incentivise the use of long lasting wood products such as engineered timber in construction.”