The Environmental Pillar, Ireland’s environmental NGO advocacy coalition, has given a cautious welcome to the Nature Restoration Law which was agreed last night following negotiations between the EU Parliament, Commission and Council. But it still has concerns over concessions on the Commission’s original proposals and weaker targets in some areas.
The new law sets a target for the EU to restore at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030 and all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050. The inclusion of all ecosystems, including restoration targets for farmlands and drained peatlands, is welcome according to the Environmental Pillar.
However, it said that the agreement came at a high cost to the scope and ambition of the law. Issues such as the reduction of rewetting targets, the addition of an emergency brake whereby provisions for agricultural ecosystems can be temporarily suspended under exceptional circumstances and the excessive flexibility regarding obligations for Member States are concerning and significantly water down the law, the Pillar said.
Fintan Kelly, Agriculture and Land Use Policy and Advocacy Officer with the Environmental Pillar, said: “It is significant that the EU Parliament, Commission and Council have reached agreement on a much-needed and overdue Nature Restoration Law. This agreement has come at a high-cost however, with the level of ambition of the law having been hollowed out with lower targets, derogations and loopholes. The law, if adopted by the European Parliament, will be a step in the right direction but it’s clear that countries like Ireland will need to go beyond the ambition of the law if we are going to restore nature and halt climate breakdown.”
European citizens, more than 200 civil society organisations, scientists and industry have been demanding that the EU restore our seas, agricultural lands, peatlands and forests with a robust Nature Restoration Law. It is very disappointing that the campaign of misinformation and amendments by the European People’s Party has led to concessions and a much less ambitious law than what is needed to address the nature and climate crisis, the Pillar said.
Among the issues of concern for the Environmental Pillar are:
- Numerous derogations for Member States.
- A shift from outcome-based targets to efforts-based targets.
- The non-deterioration obligation has been watered down in that it will now apply at a biogeographical rather than Member State level, significantly undermining accountability.
- The inclusion of an emergency brake putting on hold the agri-ecosystem targets (Article 9) is extremely regressive and sets a dangerous precedent, albeit the brake is limited to just Article 9 and for a maximum of one year, limiting its negative impact.
However, it welcomed a number of measures, including:
- Time-bound quantified restoration targets for 2030, 2040 and 2050, making the legislation effective and clear for the Member States to implement and give it clear added value compared to existing legislation.
- Increased funding for nature-boosting measures if needed by Member States.
- Targets to reverse the decline in pollinators.
Communications Officer Environmental Pillar