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Biodiversity

'We must act urgently': Ten countries join Ireland to urge adoption of Nature Restoration Law

The Nature Restoration Law faced a tumultuous journey through the European Parliament over the last year.

NEARLY A DOZEN countries have joined up with Ireland to call on all EU member states to adopt the Natural Restoration Law to restore degraded land and protect wildlife around Europe.

The Irish government is urging European leaders to approve the law at the next meeting of the Environment Council on 17 June.

Germany, France, Spain, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprus, as well as Ireland, have committed to voting in favour of the law. 

The Nature Restoration Law faced a tumultuous journey through the European Parliament over the last year as climate-concerned MEPs fought to pass the legislation to set targets for the first time to restore land that is currently in poor condition.

The law seeks to restore at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030 and all ecosystems by 2050, putting forward measures to restore urban, forest, agricultural and marine ecosystems. 

Proponents say the law is crucial for the sake of Europe’s biodiversity and fighting climate change but it has faced strong opposition from some politicians and lobbyists who don’t want countries to sign up to the targets.

An Environment Council meeting in March saw some member states withdraw their support for the legislation, including Italy and Hungary.

Minister for Climate Eamon Ryan and Minister of State for Nature Malcolm Noonan have since written a letter to fellow ministers around the EU highlighting that it is vital that member states “show leadership and unity on the law to restore Europe’s already degraded nature, and to respect the views of millions of citizens, scientists and industries right across the Union who have engaged with the issue at an unprecedented level”, according to a statement to media.

The eleven member states to join Ireland’s call have agreed that restoring land and sea is essential to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts and to protect food security, while failure would mean the EU abandoning previous commitment to be a global leader in nature restoration.

On top of the risks to the environment, it is feared that failing to pass the law would mean backtracking on international negotiations and compromises, which could threaten Europe’s democratic institutions and undermine EU policy-making and decision-making processes.

As the next meeting approaches, Ministers Eamon Ryan and Malcolm Noonan plan to to write to ministers in the remaining 16 member states, as well as the European Commission, about the urgent need to approve the Nature Restoration Law.

“Europe is the fastest warming continent in the world and is facing unprecedented impacts from the intertwined nature and climate crises,” Ryan said in a statement.

Restoring ecosystems is essential to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, and to safeguard European food security.

“We must act urgently and decisively to conclude the political process. Failure to do so would be a carte blanche to destroy nature and would fundamentally undermine public faith in the EU’s political leadership at home and internationally,” he warned.

Noonan added that the EU “made a commitment to be a global leader in nature restoration and to adhere to the ambition set out in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) which was adopted by 196 countries, including the European Union and Member States, in December 2022″.

“Failure to uphold this is unconscionable. We will have to go to the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in October later this year and say we are resiling from our international promises to protect our lands and seas,” he said.

“Worse, we will seriously undermine efforts across the EU to restore our damaged and degraded ecosystems. People depend on nature for much more than we realise. This isn’t just about protecting the natural world; it’s about protecting civilisation and life as we know it.”

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