MEPs accused of “cultural war against nature” by opposing the law on restoration | Biodiversity
MEPs are accused of fomenting a “cultural war against nature” after fisheries and agriculture committees voted against an EU biodiversity restoration law.
Last June, the European Commission unveiled proposals for legally binding targets for the restoration of wildlife on land, rivers and sea for Member States. V natural restoration law was announced along with a separate law proposal to ban chemical pesticides to reverse the catastrophic loss of wildlife on the continent.
But there is growing concern that the laws could be completely repealed amid opposition from agriculture, fisheries and forestry lobbying groups and some Member States. On Tuesday, the European Parliament’s agriculture committee voted to reject the nature restoration law, followed on Wednesday by another vote against the fisheries committee’s proposals.
V natural restoration law is a key part of the European Green Deal, which is critical to meeting international climate and biodiversity commitments. On the Monday ahead of both votes, commission vice-president Frans Timmermans said there would be no other proposal.
The law aims to reverse the decline in pollinating insects while restoring forests, seas and other ecosystems critical to food production, to make Europe more resilient to climate shocks as the planet warms. This was a key part of the EU’s negotiating position at Cop15 in Montreal last year, where the world agreed to protect 30% of the planet for nature.
The centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) has called for a complete rejection of proposals for nature restoration and pesticides, with liberal MEPs also divided on the issue. MEPs from both groups voted against the nature proposals this week, drawing the ire of NGOs.
Sabien Limans, Senior Biodiversity Policy Officer at WWF Europe, said: “With this refusal, the majority of the MEPs on the agriculture committee are letting down all citizens, including farmers. At a time when Italy is devastated by floods and Spain is experiencing a severe drought, such a denial of what is happening in Europe is unacceptable.
“It is clear to science that restoring nature will increase our resilience to such extreme weather events and support long-term food security. Meanwhile, the agriculture committee rejects a legal proposal to restore nature. This is an absolutely irresponsible attitude that endangers the livelihoods of everyone, especially farmers.”
In an interview with the Guardian last week, the EU Environment Commissioner warned that the rejection of the law would send a dangerous signal to the world and undermine climate and biodiversity targets.
Ariel Brunner, regional director for BirdLife Europe, said: “Politicians are fueling a culture war against nature instead of facing the truth. Without urgent and massive efforts to restore nature, we simply will not survive the climate and biodiversity crisis.