Indicator Assessment

Greenhouse gas emissions from land use, land use change and forestry

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-565-en
  Also known as: CLIM 057
Published 26 Oct 2021 Last modified 26 Oct 2021
1 min read

Through its land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) activities, the EU currently removes a net total of 249 Mt CO2e from the atmosphere every year, equivalent to 7% of its annual greenhouse gas emissions. The sector will play a crucial role in helping the EU achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Doing so will require reversing the current decreasing trend of the EU's carbon sink. According to national projections from EU Member States, current measures in place will not be sufficient to achieve this, with an average removal of 200 Mt CO2e per year in 2030. However, implementing the national measures currently at planning stage could increase the current EU carbon sink by 3%.

LULUCF sector emissions and removals in the EU, by main land use category


In 2019, a net total of 249 Mt CO2e was removed by the EU’s LULUCF sector, equivalent to 7% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions. These removals are due to carbon absorption by forests, together with carbon storage in harvested wood products. CO2 removals in the EU have been decreasing for the past 10 years, mainly due to the lower absorption of carbon by aging forests and increased harvest rates. Natural disturbances (wind throws, forest fires, droughts and bark beetle outbreaks) caused most of the inter-annual variations in the time series, but their increased frequency also impacted the long-term trend. The decreased rate in net forest area gain also contributed to the reduction in net removals over the last decade, yet at a lower level than other drivers. All other LULUCF activities (cropland, grassland, wetlands and settlements) are sources of emissions at the level of the EU. A large part of these emissions stems from managed organic soils.

Until 2020, there were no specific targets for this sector within the EU. For the period 2021-2030, EU Member States will have to ensure that accounted greenhouse gas emissions from LULUCF are balanced by at least an equivalent accounted removal of CO2 from the atmosphere ('no-debit' rule). The regulation is currently being revised to increase the ambition in the sector. For the period 2026-2030, the proposal sets an EU net removal target of -310 Mt CO2e by 2030 with national LULUCF targets for each Member State. After 2030, the proposal sets out a pathway for an EU climate neutral land sector by 2035, combining emissions from agriculture with net removals from LULUCF.

National projections from EU Member States for the LULUCF sector show a decrease in the level of net removals, with an average of 200 Mt CO2e removed per year for the period 2020-2040, compared to the historical average of 300 Mt CO2e removed per year from 1990 to 2019. The additional measures reported by Member States are only expected to increase average net removals from 2020 to 2040 by 3%. Currently, projected removals of 194 Mt CO2e by 2030 with existing measures or 209 Mt CO2e with the implementation of currently planned additional measures remain far below the proposed EU target of 310 Mt CO2e removed. More ambitious measures to increase removals are therefore needed from Member States, while emissions must also be further reduced.

Comparison of cumulative historical and projected land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) emissions and removals by Member State


Large Member States, such as Spain, Sweden, Italy, France, Poland and Romania, were responsible for the largest cumulative net LULUCF removals in the past 10 years, contributing to approximately two thirds of the EU LULUCF sink. They are expected to remain the main contributors in the next decade; however, all, except Sweden, project lower removals for the future. In total, eight countries project increasing cumulative removals in the next decade (Slovenia, Finland, Portugal, Greece, Sweden, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta). On the other hand, Germany, Latvia and Czechia project a reversal of the trend in the next 10 years, where the LULUCF sector is expected to turn from a net sink into a net source of emissions. The LULUCF sector in Denmark, the Netherlands and Ireland was a net source of emissions in the past decade and is projected to remain so in the future.

Supporting information

Indicator definition

The indicator comprises historical and projected emissions estimates from the LULUCF sector. Historical emissions are presented by main land use category, whereas projected emissions are presented at aggregate level.


Million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2e)


Policy context and targets

Context description

Regulation (EU) 2018/841 establishes Member States' contributions to meeting the greenhouse gas emission reduction target of the Union for the period 2021-2030 for the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector. The European Climate Law enshrines the goal for Europe to become climate-neutral by 2050 and includes a target of at least a 55% reduction in net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2030 compared to 1990. This acknowledges the need to enhance Europe’s carbon sink through a more ambitions LULUCF regulation, for which the Commission made a proposal in July 2021.


No targets have been specified

Related policy documents

No related policy documents have been specified



Methodology for indicator calculation

Historical and projected emissions estimates from all EU Member States and for the EU-27 aggregate were obtained from publicly available databases published by the EEA.

For the individual Member State's emissions and removals, the cumulative 10-year LULUCF total for 2020-2019 and the projected 10-year LULUCF total for 2021-2030 for a scenario ‘with existing measures’ are shown.

The latest available version of the historical inventory and projected emissions are used to compile the indicator, but note that this may introduce small inconsistencies between the historical and projected emissions, if projections for some Member States are not based on the latest inventory submission and recalculations have occurred.

Methodology for gap filling

No methodology for gap filling has been specified. Probably this info has been added together with indicator calculation.

Methodology references

No methodology references available.



Methodology uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sets uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sources

Other info

DPSIR: State
Typology: Policy-effectiveness indicator (Type D)
Indicator codes
  • CLIM 057
Frequency of updates
Updates are scheduled once per year
EEA Contact Info


Geographic coverage

Temporal coverage



Filed under:
Filed under: lulucf, land use, projections
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