Climate change and environmental degradation are an existential threat to Europe and the world. Therefore in December 2019 the Commission presented a communication on a European Green Deal that sets out a detailed vision to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, safeguard biodiversity, establish a circular economy and eliminate pollution, while boosting the competitiveness of European industry and ensuring a just transition for the regions and workers affected.
Parliament has played an important role in pushing for more ambitious EU climate legislation and declared a climate emergency on 28 November 2019.
The European Climate Law writes into law the goal to become climate neutral by 2050 and attain the intermediate target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels). After 2050 the EU will aim for negative emissions. In July 2021 the European Commission presented its “Fit for 55 in 2030” package-the legislative tool to deliver on the targets agreed in the European Climate law.
The Commission proposed in June 2022 a regulation on nature restoration to contribute to the long-term and sustained recovery of damaged nature across the EU’s land and sea areas and to achieve EU climate and biodiversity objectives. Parliament adopted its position on the EU nature restoration law in July 2023 with 336 votes in favour, 300 against and 13 abstentions. A vote to reject the Commission’s proposal did not pass (312 votes to 324 and 12 abstentions).
The EU must have restoration measures in place by 2030 covering at least 20% of its land and sea areas, accprding to the vote. MEPs underline that restoring the ecosystem is key to combating climate change and biodiversity loss, and reduces risks to food security. They stress that the draft law does not impose the creation of new protected areas in the EU nor block new renewable energy infrastructure as they added a new article underlining that such installations are overwhelmingly in the public interest.