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BRUSSELS: The EU on agreed new rules for certifying carbon removals — including CO2 stored in farmland — creating potential new revenue streams for struggling farmers but alarming environmentalists.

EU lawmakers and negotiators from the 27 member states struck a deal on a voluntary system intended to boost different types of carbon removal across the bloc — a key part of its strategy to become carbon neutral by 2050.

European Parliament rapporteur Lidia Pereira said the legislation aimed to foster private investment and prevent “greenwashing” by bringing clarity to the nascent carbon capture and storage market.

The new Carbon Removal Certification Framework (CRCF) covers a huge range of processes.

Those include emerging technologies that seek to extract CO2 from industrial sites and either permanently store it in underground reservoirs, or use it to make synthetic fuels.

The framework also covers temporary carbon storage — 35 years or more — in long-lasting products such as wood-based construction.

And it covers temporary storage from carbon farming (restoring forests, soil, wetlands...), as well as emissions cuts through better soil management, such as no tilling or reduced fertilizer use.

A review in 2026 will also take into account cuts in methane emissions from livestock farming, and manure management.

The new system would ultimately pave the way for farmers to obtain and trade carbon credits — a potential new source of revenue.

The Carbon Market Watch environmental group criticised it as “riddled with holes” and liable to do “more harm than good” by allowing carbon removals to be used as a substitute, rather than a complement, for emissions cuts. But Pascal Canfin, chair of the European Parliament’s environment committee, said the legislation was “a world first that we Europeans can be proud of.”

“With this law we will enable farmers to be paid when they store carbon and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions,” he told AFP.

Copa-Cogeca, an umbrella organisation for European farmers’ unions, called it a “pioneering framework” that could provide a response to “both issues of transition and farm income.”

But it also said the accord had flaws, regretting that livestock activities were not included and arguing that farmers should be compensated in the scheme for efforts to preserve biodiversity.

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