After months of negotiations, dramatic developments and campaigns, the European Parliament’s Committee vote on the Nature Restoration Law was today tied, resulting in no overall majority support for the amended text. Over 80% of habitats in the European Union are already in poor condition due to intensive farming, urban sprawl and pollution. Last year, the continent suffered the worst droughts in 500 years and scientists say this extreme weather is set to worsen, impacting food security and biodiversity. The new Nature Restoration Law would restore at least 20% of the EU’s land and seas by 2030, reverse pollinator decline and restore at least 25,000km of rivers. This legislation is a key pillar of the European Green Deal. to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.
Commenting on the voting outcome in the ENVI Committee - Noor Yafai, Europe Director of Global Policy and Institutional Partnerships at The Nature Conservancy - said:
“Today’s negative vote sent a disappointing signal for the European Union’s climate change efforts, but all is not lost and the battle for nature continues. On the one hand, the lack of overall support from Environment Committee members symbolises a looming threat that the European Parliament’s international leadership on environmental issues, which grew tall and blossomed with the Green Deal, could now be about to wilt away. On the other hand, the silver lining to today's tied vote means the the original, undiluted Nature Restoration Law proposal will now go to the full European Parliament for elected representatives to vote.
"Looking ahead with hope and optimism, the European Parliament now has a historic opportunity to win the battle for nature and vote in favour of the Nature Restoration Law with all the protections it would bring to support stronger climate resilience and sustain security of food production in Europe.
“It is concerning the the Environment Committee vote fell victim to an audacious disinformation campaign which ignores what all the science, as well as European businesses and civil society groups, are telling us – that we urgently need nature restoration to help shield the countryside and citizens all over Europe from the worst effects of climate change to come. Those single agriculture lobby groups that have been attacking the nature restoration agenda do not represent all of Europe’s food security interests.
As attested in the recent statement by the Forum for the Future of Agriculture, there is fortunately no food security problem in Europe today - but millions of landowners and farmers are nevertheless warning of the serious risks posed by biodiversity loss and extreme weather events. Differences in perspectives on the finer implementation details should not be utilised as grounds to block progress on the big-picture goals.
“We must ensure that the millions of farmers and landowners across Europe seeking to safeguard their lands from climate change are not short-changed by those who seek to dismiss nature restoration without credible scientific evidence to substantiate their claims. As the EU Council last week agreed in confirming its support for the Nature Restoration Law, there is overwhelming evidence to support the long-term benefits this legislation will have for farmers and landowners. Thousands of pages of impact assessment conducted by the European Commission and passed through the EU Regulatory Scrutiny Board point to the importance of natural defences against climate change. The data shows that, for every €1 invested in nature restoration, Europe would benefit from a return on investment of as much as €38. It has become all too convenient for some to ignore the science and facts, in favour of electioneering and political gain.
“Blocking the EU Nature Restoration Law would render European farmers even more susceptible to climate change, including the detrimental impacts of flooding, droughts and barren soils on crops. We now look to the plenary vote next month and hope that the rest of the European Parliament will come to the rescue of nature’s ability to defend our farmers, businesses and citizens from the worsening effects of climate change to come."
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.