How the EU’s Historic New Law Targets Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss – Impakter

How the EU's Historic New Law Targets Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss  Impakter

How the EU’s Historic New Law Targets Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss – Impakter

How the EU's Historic New Law Targets Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss - Impakter

The European Union Passes Historic Law to Protect Natural Habitats

The European Union (EU) passed a historic law on Monday to protect the continent’s natural habitats. The landmark law was passed following a vote at the Council of the European Union meeting in Luxembourg that was won by a narrow margin.


For a law to be passed, 55% of member states, representing at least 65% of the EU population, must vote in favor of it. After Slovakia and Austria’s last-minute change of heart, the votes in favor cleared this threshold by a mere 1.07 percentage points. This comes after months of impasses between the EU and the continent’s farmers concerning growing climate-focused regulations that some farmers feel are “drowning [them].”

“Today’s decision is a victory for nature,” wrote Leonore Gewessler, Austria’s Minister for Climate Action, after the vote on Monday. “My conscience tells me unmistakably [that] when the healthy and happy life of future generations is at stake, courageous decisions are needed.” Gewessler’s vote was credited with saving the proposal.

An environmental group coalition, led by WWF Europe, said: “Today’s vote is a massive victory for Europe’s nature and citizens who have been long calling for immediate action to tackle nature’s alarming decline.”

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

  1. Goal 15: Life on Land

Main Provisions of the Law

  • The goal of the new law is to implement measures to restore a minimum of 20% of the EU’s land and sea habitats by 2030. Additionally, by 2050, all the ecosystems in need of restoration should have protections in place.
  • The law sets out to prevent any “significant deterioration” of areas that have reached good condition due to restoration efforts as well as reverse the declining pollinator populations by 2030 at the latest.
  • Member states are expected to support efforts such as the planting of over three billion trees by 2030, turning at least 25,000 kilometers of rivers into free-flowing rivers by the same target date, and ensuring no net loss on urban green spaces and tree canopy cover until 2030.

Implementation and Criticisms

In 2033, the European Commission will meet to review the effects of the regulation on the continent’s agricultural, fishing, and forestry sectors, in addition to the wider socio-economic impact.

Overall, 20 countries voted in favor of the law. Belgium abstained, while Finland, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden voted against the law. The main criticism lobbied against the regulation was simply the cost of the proposal and the strict administrative burdens placed on member states.

Copa and Cogeca, the EU’s biggest farming lobby group, criticized the ministers who voted in favor of the law, labeling it a “flawed proposal” that would lead to legislative battles across European courts.


Still, the reaction by many climate activists and green party ministers across Europe was overwhelmingly positive. “Despite the weakening of the law, this deal offers a ray of hope for Europe’s nature, future generations, and the livelihoods of rural communities,” says Špela Bandelj Ruiz, a Greenpeace biodiversity campaigner.

Alain Maron, Minister for Climate Transition, Environment, Energy and Participatory Democracy of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, said: “There is no time for a break in protecting our environment. Today, the Council of the EU is choosing to restore nature in Europe, thereby protecting its biodiversity and the living environment of European citizens. It is our duty to respond to the urgency of the collapse of biodiversity in Europe, but also to enable the European Union to meet its international commitments. The European delegation will be able to go to the next COP with its head held high.”

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Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of — In the Cover Photo: EU flags at the European Commission Berlaymont building, Brussels, Belgium, July 15th, 2020. Cover Photo Credit: Guillaume Périgois.