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Academics call on EU decision-makers to take responsibility for the climate impact of harvesting forests

Press release issued: 27 June 2017

The University of Bristol’s Dr Joanna House has led 40 scientists from around the world who are concerned about contentious EU plans that would hide the climate impacts of harvesting more trees.

In an open letter to EU decision-makers, the signatories warn that proposed forest accounting rules put the EU’s climate credibility at risk and could have international consequences for the amount of carbon stored in trees.

The letter comes before the EU Environment Ministers are set to congregate in Brussels on Monday 19 June to discuss the issue of how to account for emissions in regard to the role of forests.

Forests play a key role in mitigating climate change by acting as a sink, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Scientists are calling for EU decision-makers to agree to robust, transparent and credible accounting rules to track the real climate impact of forest policies.

Different EU members states are polarised as to whether to take a scientifically credible approach, supported by scientists, or whether to take an approach that would effectively hide the change in emissions due to increasing forest harvest. A breakdown of the various countries and their stances’ can be viewed here

Dr Joanna House, reader in environmental science and policy, and Co-Chair of Global Environmental Change at the Cabot Institute, University of Bristol, said: “The Paris Agreement needs credible and transparent forest accounting and EU leaders are about to make a decision that could set the standard. The wrong decision would increase the risks of climate change”.

Read the letter to EU decision-makers here