ForestPaths issues forest-based mitigation recommendations

As part of the public call for evidence aiming to set an EU climate target for 2040, the Horizon Europe project ForestPaths issued a policy brief, outlining evidence-based suggestions to bolster the role of forests and wood products in achieving climate neutrality.

Photo: Lauri Poldre

Reaching climate neutrality by 2050 is crucial to fighting climate change, preserving the environment, and safeguarding a sustainable future for generations to come. To ensure a firm path towards this objective, the EU launched a call for evidence supporting the establishment of an intermediate 2040 climate target. In response to this call, ForestPaths developed its first policy brief – ‘European climate targets: forests and forest-based sector potentials and challenges’. This document builds on a report and a policy brief originally published by the European Forest Institute.

Forest-based mitigation activities can reduce emissions by sequestering carbon in forest ecosystems, retaining carbon in wood products and avoiding emissions through improved management and material or energy substitution. In fact, forests and wood products currently compensate for about 10% of the total annual EU greenhouse gas emissions (removing approximately 380 MtCO2 eq/year).

ForestPaths’ policy brief highlights that it is possible to achieve an additional mitigation potential in the EU of 72 MtCO2 eq/year by 2050 by combining mitigation activities such as avoiding deforestation, afforestation/reforestation, shifts in wood use, cascading and increased efficiency. This could be increased even more to up to 143 MtCO2 eq/year, with additional measures.

To achieve enhanced forest-based mitigation, ForestPaths’ policy brief calls for a holistic approach – both in policy and in research – that considers the interactions between forest-based mitigation activities, adaptation and other sectors, as well as biodiversity and other ecosystem services. Such an approach must cover all the relevant carbon pools and fluxes of forest ecosystems, wood products, avoided emissions through material and energy substitution, as well as any leakage and rebound effects.

The findings presented in the policy brief are based on a review of the scientific literature.

“In our project, we will develop a next generation modelling framework that allows us to make an all-round assessment of the climate mitigation potential of European forests and the forest-based sector. This assessment goes beyond the current state-of-the-art and will deliver more robust and detailed results.”, says Hans Verkerk, coordinator of the ForestPaths project.

The policy brief is the first publication in ForestPaths Features, a new series from the ForestPaths project which puts the spotlight on its insights and results in easy-to-understand and concise formats.

This press release has been published by EurekAlert! and AlphaGalileo.

Download the full policy brief

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The European Union has set ambitious climate targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% in 2030 and become climate neutral by 2050. ForestPaths will provide clear policy pathways that outline alternative trajectories for how European forests and the forest-based sector can help climate change mitigation, while conserving their biodiversity and sustaining ecosystem services.