The State’s obligations to report greenhouse gas emissions and greenhouse gas removals in the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sectors are set out under Regulation 525/2013, while accounting obligations are set out in Directive 529/2013 up to 2020 and Regulation 2018/841 (“the LULUCF Regulation”) for the period 2021-2030. These relate to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the associated Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement. The LULUCF Regulation includes an alignment of land use categories with those reported to the UNFCCC and brings the LULUCF sector into the European Union’s 2030 climate policy framework more directly by including a link between the Effort Sharing Regulation (Regulation 2018/842) and land use accounting. This Regulation forms parts of the implementation of the European Union’s commitments under the Paris Agreement.
Due to certain specificities and the complex nature of this sector, the LULUCF sector is treated differently to other sectors under the European Union’s climate framework policy. The LULUCF Regulation requires Member States to ensure that accounted emissions from land use are entirely compensated by equivalent accounted removals from the atmosphere through action in the sector, i.e. to ensure that there are no net accounted emissions from those sectors. This obligation covers all managed land use categories in the territory of Ireland and requires the State to account for emissions and removals from both State-owned land and privately-owned land, including forests. Ireland and other EU Member States may employ a capped amount of total accounted removals, in excess of the no net emissions obligation, to meet targets under the Effort Sharing Regulation. It is also possible for Member States to use annual emissions allocations under the Effort Sharing Regulation to meet their obligations under the LULUCF Regulation.
Ireland’s National Inventory Report, prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency, details the methodologies followed in developing estimates of emission and removals for LULUCF. The latest report can be found here: http://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/air/airemissions/ghg/nir2019/.
A carbon credit generally refers to an accounting unit in an international agreement or a regulatory or voluntary market and does not refer to a universally traded asset. There is no inherent private property right to greenhouse gas emissions or removals by forests or other land uses, whether on lands held by the State or privately owned. The State supports the long-term greenhouse gas store in the forest estate through regulation and financial incentives for forest planting and sustainable management, such as the afforestation grant and premium scheme. Land owners may choose to pursue voluntary initiatives outside of such subsidies that do not impact on the State’s reporting and accounting obligations.