In Wednesday’s session of the European Parliament, 336 votes supported the Nature Restoration Law, with 300 against and 13 abstaining.
The debate on the controversial legislation has raged amongst members of the Parliament since it was first proposed, drawing support from both environmentalists and the scientific community. Opposition comes mainly from the European People’s Party (EPP), which is a major player in the European Parliament.
The narrow victory has drawn celebration from the environmentalist community, notably the WWF:
📢BREAKING: European Parliament backs the Nature Restoration Law!
MEPs have chosen to listen to European citizens and scientific facts instead of disinformation & lies.
— WWF EU (@WWFEU) July 12, 2023
The Nature Restoration Law sets out several environmental measures to implement the restoration of at least 20% of the European Union’s (EU) land and 20% of sea areas by 2030.
The basis of the law covers several key points, examples of which are: to restore degraded habitats, recover pollinators, remove river barriers, improve forest biodiversity and increase urban green space.
The legislation is a key part of the EU’s Green Deal strategy, which aims to help build the health of European Union citizens and future generations by tackling issues related to climate change, loss of biodiversity, water pollution and waste.
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Those opposing the law argue that it could have some worrying repercussions on food security and industry. The EPP Group, who oppose the legislation, state:
“The Nature Restoration Law has good intentions but would be a disaster for rural communities, farmers and fisherman and public authorities having to deal with the legal consequences.”
However, there has been strong support from the environmental lobby, including leading campaigner Greta Thunberg. In a recent Tweet leading up to today’s vote, she called on MEPs directly:
Week 255. On Wednesday, the @EUparliament will vote on the Nature Restoration Law. We demand MEPs to not reject this law and to vote for the strongest law possible. We can’t afford to continue sacrifice nature in the name of extraction and greed.#RestoreNature #ClimateStrike pic.twitter.com/iTcTRR733W
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) July 7, 2023
Greta has also spoken out at recent protests:
The Nature Restoration Law was also strongly backed by the scientific community, who argued that the claims of its opposition are incorrect. In an open letter signed by 6,000 scientists, they outline that the legislation to reduce chemical and pesticide use will help with maintaining food production and security. They also state regarding the scientific validity of the arguments against the legislation:
“Those claims not only lack scientific evidence, but even contradict it.”
The scientists argue that measures to protect marine life have been proven to boost the fishing industry and believe that the measures will help society overall.
The letter also directly addresses the key issue of food security:
“Conserving 20% of (semi-)natural habitat in farmed landscapes is both possible and desirable to mitigate climate change and increase biodiversity and associated ecosystem services. This can enhance food security in the long term, by making food production and consumption more resilient and better adapted to climate change.”
As the legislation has now survived the challenge, the next stop for the Nature Restoration Law is the parliament’s environmental committee. MEPs will then enter negotiations and alterations aimed at putting it into practice in member states.
“Our position adopted today sends a clear message. Now we must continue the good work, defend our ground during the negotiations with member states and reach an agreement before the end of this Parliament’s mandate to pass the first regulation on nature restoration in the EU’s history,” said rapporteur César Luena.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: MEPs debate about the EU’s most immediate challenges. Featured Photo Credit: European Parliament.