The Carbon Removal Certification Framework is Filled with Climate Threatening Loopholes

Climate action

As the final moments of the Carbon Removal Certification Framework (CRCF) negotiations drew to a close earlier this week, European NGOs were left deeply disappointed with the outcome. The agreed-upon deal falls woefully short of what is needed on multiple fronts, risking to impair the effectiveness of the EU’s climate action.

The trilogue outcome resembles a smörgåsbord of potential loopholes that threaten to water down the EU’s climate policy. 

Firstly, the text fails to address the universally agreed-upon principle: that removals must be supplementary to emission reductions and not serve as substitutes. The text endorses emission offsetting with CRCF-certified units. This failure not only threatens to stall decarbonisation efforts but also undermines the effectiveness of the EU’s current climate target. This issue is further exacerbated by allowing the double claiming of the same CRCF units both in corporate registries and in countries’ inventories. 

Secondly, the CRCF will certify temporary carbon removal credits for short-term parking of emissions in soils and in products. This is a problem as all carbon remains in the atmosphere for equally long periods of time, from several hundreds to a thousand years. Matching permanent emissions with temporary removals is infeasible. Moreover, given the biogenic carbon cycle’s brevity and the risks of reversals that exist, combined with challenges with accounting and assessing additionality, the vast potential for creating bogus credits is concerning.

Thirdly, negotiators have taken too narrow a view of land and reduced it close to a mere carbon commodity. While mandatory co-benefit is included, it is inadequate to safeguard the multitude of vital functions that nature provides, including biodiversity and ecosystem health.   

Overall, this legislation will not only compromise the integrity of the EU’s climate targets but also undermine the credibility of the EU’s climate action on the global stage. CAN Europe calls for both sides to reject the insufficient outcome of the negotiations and instead demand enhanced legislation that would truly drive us towards our shared climate objectives.

Written by Ulriikka Aarnio, Senior Climate and Land Use Policy Coordinator at CAN Europe


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