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EU climate chief defends plans for ‘carbon farming’

BERLIN (AP) — The European Union’s top climate official on Wednesday dismissed criticism from environmental groups over its proposal to incorporate carbon removal methods into its climate plans, insisting the plan won’t undermine the bloc’s efforts to tackle global warming.

Dozens of organizations issued a joint call Monday slamming the EU’s plans to certify so-called offsets — carbon absorbed through nature or with technological means — which could then be bought by polluters to reduce their emissions balance.

The groups, including Friends of the Earth, Corporate Accountability and the Center for International Environmental Law, argue that subtracting carbon captured in this way from the 27-nation bloc’s emissions total amounts to “ greenwashing.”

Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the EU’s executive Commission, insisted the plans for carbon removal certificates were consistent with the bloc’s legally binding climate targets.

“It’s additional to what we’re doing, and it’s not instead of what we’re doing,” he said.

But he acknowledged that the EU won’t completely end its greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century, so having a way to credibly achieve a ‘ net zero ’ goal was important.

“The certification framework for carbon removals ensures that whenever a ton of carbon is said to have been taken from the atmosphere, we can verify that claim,” he said.

Timmermans added that carbon removals would also “offer new and additional sources of income for the many farmers who are eager to do more for biodiversity but struggle to find the necessary funding to do so.”

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