The EU will set up a program to encourage the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere

BRUSSELS, Dec 15 (Reuters) – European Union politicians said on Wednesday they would create a system to certify carbon removals next year, as a step towards establishing a regulated European market for trade them and provide a financial incentive to store the CO2.

Direct air capture and other technologies suck in air and use chemical reactions to extract carbon dioxide which can then be stored long term, while trees, soil and wetlands provide ways natural ways to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

As part of its plan to have net zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2050, the EU wants to increase removals to offset emissions from sectors like agriculture and heavy industry, which shouldn’t be able to reduce to zero.

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The European Commission has said it will develop a certification system for carbon removals in 2022, measuring the CO2 removals of technologies and individual landholdings in the EU, and taking into account how long the CO2 is stored.

This would allow farmers and landowners to earn EU-recognized credits for CO2 removal and sell the credits to polluters who need to balance their emissions.

Some enterprise giants such as Microsoft (MSFT.O) have said they are willing to pay a premium for removal compensations.

The system could lay the groundwork for an EU-regulated market to trade certified carbon offset credits after 2030, or add them to the existing EU carbon market, which requires power and industrial companies to buy a permit each time they emit CO2.

Some campaigners have said adding removals to the EU carbon market in the 2030s risks undermining the impetus to focus on outright reducing emissions as much as possible.

“Are we going to achieve 85%, 95% (emissions) reduction by 2030? Certainly not, because it’s not even on the political table,” said Wijnand Stoefs, policy manager at Carbon Market Watch. .

Removals can already be sold in voluntary markets for carbon offset credits, which lack standardized rules and have raised concerns about the environmental claims of some credits.

The EU wants the first projects to capture five million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere each year by 2030.

That’s a tiny fraction of the more than 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent emitted by the EU, but the target would try to kick-start fledgling technologies.

Large-scale direct air capture projects are being developed in countries like the US, but not in the EU-27 bloc.

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Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Alexander Smith and Barbara Lewis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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