European Parliament calls for new EU biodiversity law

MEPs also want a ‘Paris agreement’ style deal for biodiversity at an upcoming UN conference in October, that will set global biodiversity priorities to 2030 and beyond.
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By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

11 Jun 2021

MEPs have called for a new EU biodiversity law, similar to the bloc’s climate law, to help protect “vanishing nature” in Europe.

The demand is made in a resolution adopted by members at their plenary in Strasbourg earlier this week.

Parliament adopted the ‘EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030: Bringing nature back into our lives’ resolution, with 515 votes for to 90 against.

In a debate on the same issue, members heard that nature is declining globally at an unprecedented rate, with around a million of an estimated eight million species threatened by extinction.

The EU biodiversity strategy seeks to ensure that by 2050 the world’s ecosystems are “restored, resilient, and adequately protected.”

The resolution supports the set-up of a ‘European Platform for Urban Greening’ along with binding targets on urban biodiversity and says €20bn per year must be mobilised for biodiversity action in Europe.

MEPs also want a ‘Paris agreement’ style deal for biodiversity at an upcoming UN conference in October, that will set global biodiversity priorities to 2030 and beyond.

We are asking for an EU Biodiversity Law similar to the EU climate law, which would set the governance framework until 2050 to protect biodiversity, including binding targets for 2030” César Luena MEP

The resolution, however “strongly regrets” that the EU has not achieved its 2020 biodiversity objectives.

The new EU strategy therefore must, argues the resolution, adequately tackle changes in land and sea use, the exploitation of organisms, climate change, pollution and invasive alien species.

MEPs, through the resolution, believe an ‘EU Nature Restoration Plan’ is also necessary and insist that at least 30 percent of the EU’s land and sea be protected by 2030.

Spanish Socialist Group MEP César Luena said, “We are asking for an EU Biodiversity Law similar to the EU climate law, which would set the governance framework until 2050 to protect biodiversity, including binding targets for 2030.”

He added, “I am satisfied we have endorsed the main targets of the European Commission's proposal and support the creation of an EU Nature Restoration Plan to restore at least 30 percent of the EU’s land and sea.”

“There is also widespread support for a law to protect and use soil sustainably, and a plan to jointly address the climate and biodiversity crises.”

Luena, Parliament’s rapporteur on the strategy, said, “Our food, our air, and our entire environment relies on biodiversity, but it’s at risk because of human action. The initial communication proposed by the Commission was a positive step, but we succeeded to go further and improve the strategy in the environment committee.”

“We included a call for a law on the protection and sustainable use of soil. We ensured that Europe’s forests are truly part of the plan to protect and restore biodiversity.”

“Just preventing further loss of biodiversity is not enough, and we called for a binding target of 30 percent of degraded ecosystems to be restored. Finally, our idea of a long-term EU Action Plan on Climate and Biodiversity has been supported.”

“The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 sends a strong message that we need to urgently scale up nature protection in the EU. European countries do not have the credibility to demand, for example, a halt to deforestation in the Amazon, if we are not ready to defend our own nature within the EU” Ville Niinistö MEP

Further reaction came from Greens/EFA deputy Ville Niinistö, shadow rapporteur in the Environment Committee, who said, “Biodiversity is the existential foundation of all life on our planet.”

He added, “The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 sends a strong message that we need to urgently scale up nature protection in the EU. European countries do not have the credibility to demand, for example, a halt to deforestation in the Amazon, if we are not ready to defend our own nature within the EU.”

“Parliament’s vote this week was our chance to call on the Commission to take action, including introducing a legally binding EU Biodiversity Law, in the same spirit as the EU Climate Law.

"There’s no room for compromises: we must protect nature on both land and sea. European forests are especially under threat and exposed to multiple and growing pressures, despite their prominent role as a shelter for biodiversity and their contribution to climate mitigation.”

The resolution also calls for a new regulatory approach to better prevent risks stemming from the exotic pet trade in Europe and members say they want an ‘EU Positive List’ of safe and suitable pet species.

“This call is timely and needed,” said David van Gennep CEO of AAP, a European animal welfare NGO.

He said that 1 in 7 exotic pets rescued by their two rescue centres in the past five years carried one or more potentially dangerous diseases.

“If we are to prevent future zoonotic disease outbreaks and pandemics, it is paramount that the root causes of increased human interaction with wild animals are addressed in EU legislation.”

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