OP-ED – European Carbon Certification: the unlikely alliance

21 March 2023 - Op-ed - By : Julia GRIMAULT

The future European carbon certification framework is under intense debate. The first meeting of the expert group in charge of supporting the Commission has raised criticisms on the composition and mandate of this group, and the discussions have taken an unexpected turn by achieving the feat of bringing NGOs and CO2 Capture and Storage (CCS) industrialists to an agreement against natural carbon sinks, those of our forests or our agricultural soils. Where does this unlikely alliance come from?


First of all, the uncertainty surrounding the purpose of this certification. Will it serve mainly to channel public funds? Or is it a tool for voluntary carbon offsetting by companies, or even for regulatory offsetting in the future European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (Eu ETS)? With the announcement of report to come on the possible integration of CO2 removals into the Eu ETS, it is easy to understand the concern of NGOs, which are always very critical of offsetting, for good reasons.


This concern – at least this is our hypothesis – leads them to be all the more vigilant about the quality of the future certification, especially our ability to correctly account CO2 removals in ecosystems, and to insist on the risks of non-permanence of carbon stored in forests or soils… just like the CCS industry.


Non-permanence is a real challenge. Can the carbon removed by ecosystems be stored indefinitely?  This is where the problem lies for natural absorptions. Indeed, this carbon can be re-emitted into the atmosphere at any time, in the case of anthropogenic events (cutting down trees, hedges, tilling the soil, etc.) but above all natural events (storms, fires, dieback, etc.). The sequestered carbon remains sensitive to the impacts of climate change. These are the characteristics of living organisms. 


NGOs and industrialists are thus aligned: since the removals linked to living organisms cannot, intrinsically, be permanent, they should be excluded from the certification framework and, consequently, only technological absorptions should be considered.e a clear debate on the purpose of this certification framework. This will prevent technical debates from being disconnected from the more global issues of how to achieve our climate goals.


Read more on Euractiv’

I4CE Contacts
Project Manager – Carbon certification and Forestry and wood Email
To learn more
  • 03/24/2023 Foreword of the week
    International Day of Forests: carbon certification, adaptation and carbon sink

    This week, for the International Day of Forests, I4CE offers you an overview of the forestry issues that are being debated in France and in Brussels. In our newsletter, you will discover a new blog post by Julia Grimault on European carbon certification and our latest analyses on the adaptation of French forests to climate change, the French carbon sink and the wood industry. 

  • 12/02/2022 Foreword of the week
    European Carbon Certification must be demanding… and appealing

    How can we differentiate between projects that really enable carbon to be stored and those that only claim to do so? This is a complicated question when dealing with projects in agriculture and forestry, where quantifying carbon storage is complex, and where other environmental challenges, like the preservation of biodiversity, must also be taken into account. A complicated question, therefore, but one that needs an answer! Private actors and public authorities want to ensure that the agricultural and forestry projects financed in the name of the climate have a real environmental benefit.

  • 12/01/2022 Blog post
    Carbon certification: the Commission publishes a stringent certification framework that should also be appealing

    Yesterday, 30 november 2022, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a first EU-wide voluntary framework to reliably certify high-quality carbon removals. This proposal provides a framework, broad guiding principles, and the details will be specified in 2023 supported by an expert group on Carbon Removals. “The devil may be in the detail”, but the framing is no less important. Claudine Foucherot of [i4ce] has analysed it and identified four points on which we must be vigilant. Overall, it can be said that the Commission is submitting an ambitious proposal, which nevertheless presents a risk: not being sufficient incentives to ensure a massive deployment of certified projects.    

See all publications
Press contact Amélie FRITZ Head of Communication and press relations Email
Subscribe to our mailing list :
I register !
Subscribe to our newsletter
Once a week, receive all the information on climate economics
I register !