Environment ministers from EU member states have confirmed a target for removing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector.

The council of environment ministers adopted official positions on a range of measures under the ‘Fit for 55’ package, which aims to cut total emissions from the EU by 55% by 2030.

A position on the LULUCF sector was one of those agreed late last night (Tuesday, June 29), among other measures relating to transport, emissions trading and others.

The LULUCF sector covers the use of soils, trees, plants, biomass and timber. Emissions and sequestration from the sector are taken into account in the EU’s overall 2030 target separately from agriculture.

The council confirmed an overall objective of 310MT of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent of net removals in the LULUCF sector at EU level.

This would represent an increase of removals of about 15% compared to today. From 2026, binding targets to be met by 2030 will be set for each member state for this sector.

As well as that, the council also proposes to set each member state a commitment to achieve a sum of net greenhouse gas emissions and removals for the whole period from 2026 to 2030, which will be referred to as ‘the budget 2026-2030’.

The budget will be based on a trajectory of annual values. The council decided to maintain the distribution of targets between member states as proposed by the European Commission.

The environment ministers also agreed to enhance flexibilities to support member states that have difficulties in meeting their targets owing to factors beyond their control affecting the LULUCF sector, provided the EU as a whole meets its 2030 target.

For example, the council has introduced additional flexibility linked to the effects of climate change and organic soils, based on objective and measurable criteria and indicators.

In order to have access to that flexibility, member states will need to submit evidence to the commission following a “well-defined” methodology.

The council has also proposed to exclude emissions from disturbances to the LULUCF sector (such as forest fires) from a member state’s emissions output from the sector.

Now that the council has agreed positions on LULUCF and a range of other sectors, negotiations with the European Parliament can begin so as to reach an agreement on the final legal texts.