* Farming lobby has major concerns over proposal
* Forestry, farm land covers more than 3/4 of EU territory
* Biomass would have to be monitored
By Barbara Lewis
BRUSSELS, March 12 EU governments will
have to record changes to forestry and farmland that alter the
carbon balance under draft law published on Monday, as the
European Commission presses ahead with new rules against
The proposals go beyond agreements reached at U.N. climate
change talks in Durban last year, by requiring EU nations to
monitor cropland and grazing land in addition to forests.
The Durban accords said industrialised nations could include
Environmental campaigners have welcomed the proposal, a
draft of which was seen by Reuters last month, while farmers
said they had major concerns.
"This is the first step to incorporate these sectors into
the EU's reduction efforts," European Union Climate Commissioner
Connie Hedegaard said in a statement.
The bloc's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) already seeks to
limit the carbon emissions of utilities, heavy industry and
aviation. The introduction of carbon charges for all aircraft
using EU airports from the start of this year has led to furious
resistance from airlines and non-EU governments.
But the EU has said it will stand firm unless the United
Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization can come up
with a global scheme.
It has also said its next target is shipping and later this
year will publish proposals on how to curb maritime emissions.
The EU's forests and agricultural lands cover more than
three-quarters of EU territory.
But although highly significant, carbon accounting for
forestry and land-use is less established than for other sectors
and progress on managing it internationally and within the EU
has been slow.
So far land use, land use change and forestry, known by the
acronym LULUCF, has been excluded from the EU's set of fixed
targets to try to curb climate change.
One consequence is that emissions from biomass used in power
generation have been counted as zero, causing some to question
whether an EU target to increase the share of renewables in the
energy mix is being met through emissions from biomass.
The Commission's proposal does not go as far as land-use
targets, but emissions from burning biomass such as wood for
power generation, for instance, would have to be monitored.
After monitoring and reporting has been in place "for a
number of years" and proven to be effective, as a second step
the Commission said it would propose including LULUCF in the
EU's binding emissions reduction target.
Environmental groups that favour the EU's new approach agree
with the Commission stance that a forestry and land-use target
should not be part of the ETS, and say they differ fundamentally
with other sectors in that they can remove carbon as well as add
to overall emissions.
(Additional reporting by Charlie Dunmore; editing by Rex