In a Nutshell
- Romania is committed to the EU’s climate neutrality goal by 2050, emphasising the LULUCF sector’s role in balancing emissions, aiming for removals from this sector to be 14% higher in 2050 compared to 1990 levels.
- The National Forest Strategy 2030 advocates for afforestation of 2 million hectares and the increasing use of wood products to boost CO2 absorption, contributing to climate neutrality.
- Industrial carbon removal readiness is indicated by the transposition of the CCS Directive via the Emergency Government Ordinance 64/2011, although international CO2 transport protocols remain unratified.
- National research bodies have been mandated to develop advanced monitoring and reporting mechanisms for the LULUCF sector, yet specific initiatives or direct support mechanisms for carbon removal innovations have not yet been set out.
Role for carbon removal in national climate policy
Romania does not have a national net zero target. However, the country has committed to the European Union’s target of climate neutrality by 2050. Carbon removal’s role is laid out in Romania’s Long Term Strategy (LTS), which states that the land-use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector must balance out all emissions from all other sectors. To achieve this target, the strategy states that removals from the LULUCF sector should be 14% larger in 2050 compared with 1990. Agricultural land currently covers 62% and forests 28% of Romania.
Romania’s draft updated 2021-2030 Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) does not include a separate section on carbon removals and instead references both removals and reductions in the same sections. It forecasts that residual greenhouse gas emissions will amount to about 3MtCO2 in 2050. The plan states that Romania will have to maintain a balance between the use of forestry resources, which are cited as ensuring removals, and the extension of agricultural holdings, for example, to ensure food security. Furthermore, the LULUCF sector will be used to compensate for residual emissions in 2050. The plan also lays out broad measures on how this goal will be achieved, such as promoting carbon sequestration in agriculture and expanding forested areas, as well as reducing forest fire risks. Forests act as the main carbon sink in Romania.
Regarding carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), the draft updated NECP describes that both employing such technologies, as well as setting an obligation for CO2 injection and storage for the oil and gas industry, are key parts of the toolbox for reaching net neutrality. The plan sets an aspirational target for capturing at least 50% of emissions by 2050 from the mineral industry, which includes cement. However, CCUS is relatively absent from policy plans, and CO2 storage permitting is inefficiently scattered across multiple entities.
Relevant legal frameworks
The National Forest Strategy 2030 sets out an aspirational target of afforesting two million hectares, as well as protecting existing forests and maintaining them as carbon sinks. Furthermore, there is a goal for the sector to contribute to the climate neutrality target by improving the use of wood and wood products to stimulate an increase in absorbed CO2 stocks.
While carbon removals beyond those planned to be delivered in the LULUCF sector are not laid out, there is the potential to store captured CO2 from direct air capture (DAC) or bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) processes. Romania has adopted the CCS Directive in its national law through its Emergency Government Ordinance 64/2011, which establishes the legal groundwork for CO2 storage activities. No exploration permits for CO2 storage have yet been delivered, partly due to the permitting process being inefficient. Internationally, the country has yet to ratify an amendment to the London Protocol to allow the international transport of CO2 for under-seabed geological storage.
Support for R&D and Innovation
Romania acknowledges the role of scientific research and technological innovation in achieving its climate goals. This acknowledgement is evidenced by the responsibilities bestowed on national research institutes for developing advanced monitoring and reporting mechanisms within the LULUCF sector. However, detailed initiatives or programmes supporting direct R&D in carbon removal technologies are not explicitly outlined. Two CCUS projects were proposed as part of Romania’s Resilience and Recovery Plan. Their status, however, is unclear.
On the horizon
Romania has yet to submit its draft updated NECP which will detail the measures that the country is set to implement to meet its 2030 targets.
The draft updated NECP highlights the need to develop inter-ministerial working groups to make the CO2 storage permitting process more efficient and integrated.
- Net zero target: 2050
- Net Negative Target:
- First interim target: 2030
- Type of interim target: Emissions reduction target
- GHGs covered: Carbon dioxide and other GHGs
- Separate target for emission reduction and removals: No
- Comprehensive CDR Target: no
- CDR Target for Conventional Removals: no
- CDR Target for Novel Removals: no
- Historical emissions: No
- Annual reporting mechanism: Less than annual reporting
- Plans for carbon removal (CDR): No
- Planning to use external carbon credits: No
- Conditions on use of carbon credits:
- Ministry of Environment, Waters and Forests (MEWF): As the principal body in charge of climate and environmental matters, MEWF formulates national strategies, policies, and legal frameworks for environmental protection, water management, and forestry. This remit includes climate change mitigation and adaptation measures, biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources. The ministry represents Romania in international environmental negotiations and is responsible for implementing EU environmental regulations at the national level.
- National Environmental Protection Agency (ANPM) – Under the MEWF, the ANPM approves monitoring plans proposed by operators of CO2 infrastructure.
- National Institute for Research and Development in Forestry “Marin Dracea” (INCDS): NCDS is integral to research and development activities in Romania’s forestry sector. It contributes to the sustainable management of forest resources and biodiversity conservation, providing scientific support for the country’s strategies on climate change mitigation, particularly in carbon sequestration through forestry.
- National Agency for Mineral Resources (NAMR) – NAMR oversees the sustainable exploitation of mineral resources, including the regulatory aspects of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. It is a key player in the development of secondary legislation and procedures concerning CO2 storage.
- National Regulatory Authority for Energy (ANRE) – ANRE is mandated to issue transport licences for CO2 and to ensure transparent and non-discriminatory access to CO2 transport networks.
- Energy Policy Group (EPG): The Energy Policy Group (EPG) is a Bucharest-based non-profit and independent think-tank specialising in energy and climate policy, market analytics and energy strategy, founded in February 2014. EPG’s regional focus is Eastern Europe and the Black Sea Basin. Its analyses, however, are informed by wider trends and processes at global and EU levels.