The EU has committed to reaching climate neutrality by 2050 in order to secure a liveable future on our continent and our planet. The first and most urgent priority is the reduction of EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but at the same time the EU needs to compensate for residual emissions that cannot be eliminated – by removing carbon from the atmosphere to decrease the overall carbon that is present. These carbon dioxide removals (CDR) are negative emissions because they reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), carbon removal is necessary in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
To promote sustainable solutions and innovative carbon capture and storage technologies, the European Commission has presented a proposal for the first EU-wide voluntary framework for a reliable certification of high-quality carbon removals (Carbon Removal Certification Framework, CRCF). The proposal sets out criteria to define high-quality carbon removals and lays out the process for monitoring, reporting and verifying the authenticity of these removals. This certification framework aims to boost innovative carbon removal technologies and sustainable carbon farming solutions, while also fighting greenwashing.
The role of bioenergy
There are many different CDR technologies, including several that utilise biomass. The two main technologies are (1) bioenergy with carbon capture and storage and (2) biochar carbon removal.
Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) involves any energy pathway where CO2 is captured from a biogenic source and permanently stored. BECCS is a more cost-effective technology for reducing carbon dioxide than many alternatives. But despite BECCS being effective in terms of the amount of carbon dioxide that is reduced, the costs associated with implementation of this technology are high. Updated regulations and new economic instruments are therefore necessary for enabling the creation of large carbon sinks.
Biochar Carbon Removal (BCR) involves a chemical process called pyrolysis. Pyrolysis takes place at a lower temperature than combustion – and involves the vaporisation of compounds and elements other than carbon in the biogenic material – leaving only solid, pure carbon behind. This material, called biochar, can then be used to enhance soil in agriculture or to act as an additive in concrete, among other applications.
Bioenergy Europe welcomes the European Commission’s CRCF proposal to develop high-quality carbon removals in Europe and enable climate neutrality. The proposal outlines the start of a process, and we support a sound and harmonised governance framework that is very much needed for this essential sector. There is clear need for further details from the Expert Group and secondary legislation, considering that the QU.A.L.ITY criteria generally focus on high-quality removals – if they are based on robust quantification – to ensure that net removal is being delivered. We believe that there is too much fragmentation in voluntary space; and having a scheme developed at the EU level will provide greater certainty, transparency and clarity for the industry. It is also a chance for the EU to set the standard in establishing a world-leading carbon removal certification framework that could be used as a blueprint across the world.
Cost-effective and permanent removals, not to mention transparency (monitoring, reporting, verification), are all important operational goals. This means, among other things, that the main purpose of the certification activity must remain the promotion of carbon removals, while the certification activity itself must not become unreasonably complicated.
Especially in the case of technological removals, the cost of investment and of operating the equipment for technological removals is on such a scale that, without any reward for the removal, it is difficult to see any investment taking place. Clear guidelines, on how various types of removal certificate can and cannot be used, are therefore necessary.
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Bioenergy Europe's feedback on the proposal to establish a Union certification framework for carbon removalsBioenergy Europe welcomes the European Commission’s proposal...
Bioenergy Europe's Feedback on the Proposal Establishing a Union Certification Framework for Carbon RemovalsBioenergy Europe welcomes the European...
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