Tuesday

18th May 2021

MEPs urge binding targets to protect biodiversity

  • In Europe, about 25 percent of European animal species are currently threatened with extinction (Photo: Neil McIntosh)

MEPs have called on the European Commission to move away from voluntary commitments on biodiversity protection and to propose an "ambitious and inclusive" strategy for 2030 that sets legally binding targets for the EU and its member states.

The European Parliament on Thursday (16 January) voted to make the protection and restoration of species a top priority in the European Green Deal alongside climate change, since about 25 percent of European animal species are currently threatened with extinction.

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"The European Parliament has recognised that the time is now. If we are to avert the worst catastrophe, the European Commission and EU governments must act and make the EU a global leader," said Kevin Stairs, policy advisor at environmentalist NGO Greenpeace.

To do so, MEPs want the upcoming EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 to ensure that biodiversity is thought of in all EU policies and that at least 10 percent of the 2021-2027 long-term budget is used for the protection of ecosystems.

For the liberal MEP Pascal Canfin, who chairs the parliament's environment committee "the crucial points [of this strategy] should include better protection of natural ecosystems, reducing pesticide use in Europe and making the agriculture and the fishing sector sustainable".

In their resolution, the parliament also supported a conservation objective of at least 30 percent of natural areas and an objective of restoring at least 30 percent of degraded ecosystems, both globally and in the EU.

In October, a delegation from the European Union will attend the upcoming UN convention on biological diversity, where a global biodiversity framework to 2030 will be agreed - as was the case for the Paris agreement on climate change.

"The collapse of ecosystems and the loss of biodiversity threatens our very existence on this planet. This is why we urgently need a new global agreement on how to protect the natural world," said Green MEP Ville Niinistö, who believed that concrete and measurable targets were needed in a legally binding global agreement.

"By bringing a strong EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy to the table, the EU can truly lead the way in the discussions on the global biodiversity framework," said senior policy officer for biodiversity at WWF, another green NGO, Sabien Leemans, who believes that "a credible EU leadership at COP 15 hinges on coherent domestic action".

"The [EU] commission must now answer the call of both the parliament and European citizens when presenting the 2030 EU biodiversity strategy," he added.

The commission is expected to present the EU's biodiversity strategy 2030 at the end of February.

Last year, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) published a global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystems warning that 1m species were at risk of extinction - a record number in history.

Feature

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Legal action related to climate change is set to grow considerably in the next few years - especially after a largely-overlooked ruling over Christmas by a Dutch court forced the government to reduce its emission by 25 percent by 2020.

EU agency: 'Europe will not meet 2030 climate goals'

The European Environmental Agency's latest report predicts that Europe will not achieve its 2030 climate and energy targets "without urgent action during the next 10 years". As a result, the social systems of production and consumption must be transformed.

MEPs declare 'climate emergency' in Europe

The European Parliament approved declaring a "climate emergency", ahead of next week's UN climate conference in Madrid - and three weeks after Donald Trump confirmed the United States' withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

Over 80% of Europe's habitats in poor or bad condition

A report from the European Environment Agency reveals the EU failed to meet the targets of its 2020 biodiversity strategy, with the vast majority of protected landscapes and species show notable deteriorating trends.

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