The European Commission has approved a package of proposals to make the EU's climate, energy, land use, transport and taxation policies fit for reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% per year 2030, compared to 1990 levels.
The goal of achieving these emission reductions in the next decade is crucial for Europe to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 and to make the European Green Deal a reality and fundamentally transform our economy and society for a fair, green and prosperous future.
Member States also share responsibility for removing carbon from the atmosphere, so the Land Use, Forestry and Agriculture Regulation sets an overall EU target for carbon removal through natural sinks, equivalent to 310 million tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2030. National targets will require Member States to take care and expand their carbon sinks to meet this target.
The EU Forestry Strategy aims to improve the quality, quantity and resilience of EU forests. By 2035, the EU must aim to achieve climate neutrality in the sectors of land use, forestry and agriculture, including also non-CO2 agricultural emissions, such as those derived from the use of fertilizers and livestock. The EU Forestry Strategy aims to improve the quality, quantity and resilience of EU forests. It supports foresters and the forest-based bioeconomy, while keeping the exploitation and use of biomass sustainable, preserving biodiversity and establishing a plan to plant three billion trees across Europe by to 2030.
Energy production and use account for 75% of EU emissions, so accelerating the transition to a greener energy system is crucial. The Renewable Energy Directive will set the target of producing 40% of our energy from renewable sources by 2030. All Member States will contribute to this target, and specific targets are proposed for the use of renewable energies in transport, heating and cooling, buildings and industry. To meet the climate and environmental objectives, the sustainability criteria for the use of bioenergy are strengthened and Member States must design any bioenergy support system in such a way as to respect the principle of cascading uses of the woody biomass.
The contribution of the cork sector
The new measures approved to reduce net CO2 emissions are good news for the cork sector, which bases its economy on a natural, recyclable and renewable product like cork, which is an example in the fight against climate change and which becomes a firm commitment to a green, sustainable and competitive economy. And the fact is that corks fix more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than they emit and with this negative carbon footprint they contribute to reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. Corks are estimated to retain up to 14.7 million tonnes of CO2 per year (Cork Information Bureau | 2019).
In addition, cork dust can be used as biomass and thus contribute to generating energy that reduces carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, this is a common practice among cork manufacturing companies, who use this dust generated during the manufacturing process.