June 21, 2024

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EU lawmakers support significant measures to preserve nature and combat climate change.

The European Union Parliament narrowly approved a crucial plan on Wednesday to safeguard the environment and combat climate change, placing the bloc’s global reputation for green initiatives in the balance. Despite intense lobbying efforts against the proposal, the legislature endorsed the overall framework of a bill put forth by the European Commission, the EU’s executive body. The razor-thin vote of 324–312, with 12 abstentions, allows the bill to proceed to negotiations with member states.

This plan is a crucial component of the EU’s ambitious European Green Deal, which aims to establish the most ambitious climate and biodiversity targets globally and position the bloc as a leader in climate-related matters. Mohammed Chahim, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from the Socialists and Democrats group, hailed the vote as a significant milestone in fulfilling the Green Deal’s objectives.

The European Commission’s proposed measures set binding targets for habitat and species restoration, with a goal of encompassing at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030. Despite opposition from the European People’s Party, the largest group in the legislature, the plan survived the highly anticipated vote in Strasbourg, France. The opposition, led by the Christian Democrats, reflected a fundamental divide in Europe regarding climate issues.

While the plan was supported by thousands of scientists and multinational companies, its narrow approval margin raised concerns about the urgency with which nature and climate issues are being addressed. Although the law aligns with the global agreement reached at the United Nations biodiversity conference, critics argue that it lacks additional ambition.

In addition to the approval of the plan, legislators voted on over 100 amendments to introduce more flexibility. These approved amendments will be considered during the negotiation process with member states, which is expected to take several months before a final law can be passed.

Frans Timmermans, the EU’s climate czar, expressed willingness to find compromises to appease opposing factions, including the European People’s Party. Timmermans emphasised the importance of the nature restoration law as a pivotal component of the Green Deal, while failure to pass it could signal a general fatigue regarding climate issues within the EU.