CRCF: Red flags, uncertainty and a door left open for greenwashing

Today, the European Parliament approved the Carbon Removals Certification Framework (CRCF) setting the scene for the quantification and accounting of emission removals in the EU through carbon farming (land and biomass sequestration and emission reductions from land), storage in products, and permanent storage. 

This regulation opens up possibilities for rewarding climate positive action in the land sector, but exactly which practices will be considered remains to be seen, along with how their effects will be Monitored, Reported, and Verified (MRV), as the details in the implementation methodologies are developed in the coming months. 

Although increased ambition, coupled with increased investment, is needed, the CRCF still contains highly concerning elements:  

  • Carbon credits (particularly in a system that allows offsetting) will only hinder climate action and have no place in our agri-food system. Removals and reductions should be kept strictly separate to avoid removals replacing efforts to reduce actual emissions. The CRCF fails to do so. 
  • Nature restoration and conservation must be a priority, as aside from the benefits for biodiversity, water management and quality, and wider society, it would also lead to improved natural carbon stocks. Without nature Europe cannot hope to reach its climate goal, but the CRCF fails to prioritise nature restoration.  

Besides the danger of undermining ambitious and credible EU climate policy by giving way to an offsetting logic, the CRCF, at this stage, leaves many other key questions insufficiently addressed. It is uncertain whether its environmental and social safeguards will be sufficient to avoid a carbon tunnel vision that leads to intensification practices with negative effects on other areas such as biodiversity or access to land, and whether the market for the created units will succeed in directing significant funding to the sector in a way that incentivises the profound change that is needed. And not more greenwashing.  

“MEPs have endorsed the CRCF, but it is riddled with question marks and red flags. In the coming months as implementation methodologies are developed, we hope to see key questions addressed and loops closed to avoid this becoming a tool for greenwashing, ultimately further delaying climate action.” – Mathieu Mal, Policy Officer for Agriculture and Climate


Notes to editors

EEB analysis of the European Commission’s legislative proposal for the Carbon Removal Certification Framework (CRCF)

Joint open letter – Input on the proposed Regulation on Carbon Removal Certification

NGO Letter on the functioning of the Expert Group on Carbon Removals and its meetings

CRCF: Red flags, uncertainty and a door left open for greenwashing
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