Europe rapidly losing its forest carbon sink, study shows

(EurActiv, 7 Nov 2022) The European Union is losing its forest carbon sink at an alarming rate, with harvesting for biomass fuel a key driver behind the loss, according to new research released on Monday (7 November).

EU member states have experienced steep declines in their forest and land carbon sinks since 2002, or have lost them altogether, according to research by the Partnership for Policy Integrity (PFPI), a non-profit group.

To achieve climate neutrality by 2050, the EU has set targets for increased CO2 storage in forests, soils and other land carbon sinks. But at the current rates of decline, most EU countries will fail to reach their 2030 land sink targets, the report warns.

In Europe, forests are currently a net carbon sink because they take in more carbon dioxide than they emit. But the capacity of European forests to absorb CO2 has been shrinking over the years and needs to be restored, the European Commission admitted two years ago when it presented its climate target plan for 2030.

Based on official government data submitted to the EU and the United Nations, the PFPI found that the EU lost about a quarter of its annual land sector carbon sink between 2002 and 2020, due in large part to harvesting for energy.

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EurActiv, 7 Nov 2022: Europe rapidly losing its forest carbon sink, study shows