BRUSSELS- The European Union plans to capture five million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year by 2030 through technologies, and create an EU system to certify carbon removals, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.
The EU has committed to reach net zero emissions by 2050, eliminating the more than three billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent it currently emits each year.
To help meet that target, Brussels wants to scale up carbon removals both by using technology to capture CO2 and place it in long-term storage sites, and by encouraging farmers and landowners to store more CO2 in trees, soil and wetlands.
"The development and deployment at scale of carbon removal solutions is indispensable to climate-neutrality and requires significant targeted support in the next decade," said the document, which the European Commission is due to publish on Dec. 14.
The Commission will also propose in 2022 an EU system of certifying carbon removals, by measuring and verifying CO2 removals from individual land holdings, the draft said.
Under that system, farmers and landowners who store CO2 in their soils and forests could earn an EU-recognised credit. They could sell the credits to polluters needing to balance their emissions, creating a financial incentive to store CO2.
A robust certification system could also lay the groundwork for an EU regulated market for carbon removals - an option that could happen after 2030, the draft said.
The Commission could not immediately be reached for comment on the draft, which could change before it is published as part of a package of new EU climate proposals.
The December package is due to also include legislation forcing oil and gas firms to cut methane emissions and an upgrade of EU gas market rules. All are aimed at helping the EU hit its targets to cut net emissions at least 55% by 2030 from 1990 levels, and reduce them to net zero by 2050.
(Reporting by Kate Abnett Editing by Mark Potter) ((Kate.Abnett@thomsonreuters.com;))