EEA – Soil Carbon Briefing

Depending on different conditions, soils can either loose or emit carbon. Carbon emitted from soil can cause greenhouse gas effect and accelerate climate changes. European Environment Agency (EEA) published today briefing Soil carbon pointing out importance of information on the status of and trends in soil carbon.

Key messages from the briefing are:

  • Soils are both gaining and losing carbon depending on soil type, management and climate condition, hence there are natural differences between countries on the net greenhouse gas effect. Overall, EU soils are losing carbon as CO2 emissions, which could hamper the ambition of European Union climate targets if this trend is not reversed.
  • The cultivation and drainage of organic soil causes significant CO2 emissions. For 2019, EU Member States reported a loss of carbon from 17.8Mha of land with organic soil (4.2% of the total land area), corresponding to emissions of 108Mt CO2, while 387.6Mha of mineral soil secured net removals of 44Mt CO2.
  • Mitigation options include actions leading to more sequestration or reduced loss of carbon, and can in many cases offer important co-benefits. However, trade-offs can occur — including an increase in non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions— and can have negative consequences for biodiversity and food production. Thus, careful consideration of co-impacts should be considered when planning and implementing different land use practices.
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