Scientists fear new EU rules may ‘hide’ forest carbon loss

Scientists fear new EU rules may ‘hide’ forest carbon loss, by Matt McGrath.

Leading researchers have condemned attempts to change the way carbon from trees will be counted in Europe.

The scientists fear that millions of tonnes of CO2 from forests will disappear from the books if the changes go ahead.

Trees are important carbon sinks as they soak up about 10% of Europe’s emissions every year.

But some countries want to cut more trees down in future without counting the resulting loss of carbon.

Europe’s forests have been increasing for the last century, and over the last 10 years the equivalent of 1,500 football pitches of trees have been added every day.

However accounting for carbon contained in trees is a fiendishly difficult task. Forests can both soak up and emit carbon depending on how old they are, and how they are managed and harvested.

My team developed the world’s leading carbon accounting tool, FullCAM, for exactly this purpose (used by Australia and a couple of other countries, and, would you believe, the Clinton Foundation). The EU bureaucrats are notorious for not wanting to count carbon in trees because they want to reduce power use instead. They also don’t want to use nuclear power, the only emissions-free technology we have for baseload power. Go figure.