Tuesday

22nd Jun 2021

MEPs demand new EU biodiversity law by next year

  • MEPs said €20bn must be invested annually in nature restoration in Europe (Photo: Aleksi Gron)

The European Parliament has called on the Commission to put forward an unprecedented European biodiversity law next year, similar to the EU climate law - with binding targets for the protection of ecosystems.

Last year, the commission published a plan to halt biodiversity loss, including a restoration target of at least 30 percent of the EU's land and sea to be protected by 2030.

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Now MEPs want this and other targets to be put into EU law in order to monitor members states' implementation. They also said €20bn must be invested annually in nature restoration in Europe.

"We have a planetary crisis going on right now, not only in the European Union, of climate and biodiversity," said socialist MEP Cesar Luena, who wrote the report.

Under a non-legislative report, adopted on Tuesday (8 June), MEPs also pointed out the need to protect all remaining old-growth and primary forests, as well as wildlife.

At least 30 percent of species and habitats in a poor or bad condition should have a favourable status by 2030, or at least show a strong positive trend in that direction. But all protected species and habitats under the EU law should achieve a favourable conservation status "as soon as possible," MEPs said.

Additionally, they demanded a revision of the EU pollinators initiative, establishing indicators to stop the population decline of pollinators.

MEPs also opposed the re-authorisation of one of the world's most widely-used herbicides, glyphosate, since it appears to hinder the bees' ability to navigate back to the hive.

Brussels has proposed halving the use of chemical pesticides in the EU and reducing fertiliser use by at least 20 percent by 2030.

Given the role of forests in contributing to the EU's climate goals, the report calls for a revision of biomass rules - pointing out that the new EU Forest Strategy must recognise the EU's competencies in this area.

National capitals, however, argue that "the responsibility for forests lies with the member states".

Earlier this year, Finland and Sweden, two of the most heavily-forested countries in the EU, were accused of weakening the rules establishing a list of environmentally-sustainable economic activities (the so-called EU taxonomy) in the field of forestry.

The commission, meanwhile, said it aims to plant three billion trees in the next decade.

EU lawmakers have also called for targets on "urban biodiversity," based on nature-based solutions and green infrastructure, benefiting both humans and wildlife.

These could include a minimum share of green roofs on new buildings, supporting urban farming, prohibiting the use of chemical pesticides, and increasing the number of green spaces according to the number of inhabitants.

The parliament's report also creates fresh impetus ahead of the global summit on biodiversity (COP 15) in October 2021 in China.

The latest EU biodiversity strategy is the third of its type in the bloc. Previous plans have failed to tackle the impact of intensive farming, forestry and urbanisation on biodiversity loss.

A potential EU law on biodiversity would have to be approved by both EU countries and MEPs.

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