European Union agrees to targets to restore nature

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On Thursday, a consensus was reached between EU’s member states and the European Parliament agreed to a Nature Restoration Law, legislation that would require member states to restore 30% of degraded land and sea surfaces by 2030.

Data indicates that over 80% of natural habitats are currently in a state of poor or mediocre conservation. On November 9, the European Parliament agreed to legislation on nature restoration. This legislation aims to incorporate the Montreal Agreement on biodiversity into community law, emphasizing the goal of restoring 30% of degraded land and marine areas by 2030, followed by 60% by 2040 and 90% by 2050.

The MEPs took pride in this pioneering law, asserting its role in rebuilding biodiversity and combating climate change for future generations. The legislation addresses the poor conservation status of natural habitats (such as peatlands, dunes, and meadows) and the compromised health of up to 70% of soils.

This legislation is an significant step toward continental-scale biodiversity governance, the absence of a legal concept of nature restoration until now. While the agreed compromise doesn’t guarantee the achievement of the restoration objectives, it provides Member States with a direction, despite only imposing obligations of means, not results. This direction was opposed by some, including the European People’s Party (EPP) and far-right factions, who initially sought the withdrawal of the text, fearing threats to food security and renewable energy development.

In the compromise, agriculture was reintroduced alongside marine ecosystems and forests, despite the exclusion of agriculture by the European Parliament in a prior text. An emergency brake, allowing the temporary suspension of the law under specified conditions, was included, addressing concerns about potential threats to food security. However, details on the activation of this mechanism remain vague.

The compromise extends the scope beyond Natura 2000 sites, prioritizing them but not limiting the application exclusively to these areas. Although the compromise is considered more ambitious than the European Parliament’s initial proposal, critics argue that it falls short of what science deems necessary to address climate and biodiversity emergencies. The compromise will be voted on by the European Parliament’s environment committee on November 29 before being presented to all MEPs.



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