European Green Deal gets an upgrade by MEPs

Posted on January, 15 2020

With a large majority and cross-party support, Parliament today backed the European Green Deal proposed by the Commission in December, and demanded higher ambition.
On several key issues, such as biodiversity, deforestation, oceans and agriculture, Parliament called on the Commission to go beyond the commitments currently set out in its Communication. 

“With this resolution, MEPs have raised the bar for the European Commission to urgently present a whole range of concrete proposals that should amount to genuine transformational change,” said Ester Asin, Director of the WWF European Policy Office. “With the Parliament’s support confirmed, the ball is now in the court of Member States, who must unequivocally endorse ambitious action. Only then can Europe’s ‘man on the moon’ moment become reality.” 

In particular, WWF welcomes Parliament’s calls for ambitious and enforceable legal measures and binding targets on protection and restoration in the upcoming 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, including a binding target to expand the network of Marine Protected Areas to at least 30%, and for infringement procedures against Member States failing to not respect EU nature laws.

MEPs have also urged the Commission to come forward with a proposal for a legal framework based on due diligence to ensure deforestation-free supply chains for products placed on the EU market, tackling the main drivers of imported deforestation - a law that WWF has long called for, which would also align with the European Parliament’s proposed target to reduce the global ecological footprint of EU consumption and production.

With agriculture continuing to be the key driver for biodiversity loss in the EU, WWF also supports Parliament’s call to ensure full alignment of the current CAP reform proposals with the EU’s increased environmental, climate, and biodiversity commitments set out in the European Green Deal.

“For the sake of the climate and biodiversity, we must bring nature back and also reduce our ecological footprint both in Europe and abroad. Legally binding targets, a transition to a truly sustainable food and farming system, and a law on deforestation would all be key steps to achieve this. Commission and Member States cannot ignore these calls from MEPs when drafting policy and legislation in the coming weeks and months,” said Andreas Baumüller, Head of Natural Resources at WWF European Policy Office.

Parliament also once again confirmed its support for a climate law with a legally binding target for reaching climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest. It called for the law to include intermediate EU targets - including the previously endorsed 55% target for 2030 -, and to be complemented by a rapid phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies by 2020 at EU and national levels.

“Ending fossil fuel subsidies is essential for a climate-neutral Europe: the European Commission must pay heed to the MEPs’ position. However, while we do need to urgently increase the EU’s 2030 target, 55% is far too low, and inconsistent with both the Parliament’s ‘climate emergency’ declaration and with science, which says we need at least 65% cuts by 2030,” said Imke Lübbeke, Head of Climate at WWF European Policy Office.

WWF also welcomes Parliament’s calls for:
  • The full integration of the "blue" dimension as a key element of the Green Deal, fully recognizing the ecosystem services oceans provides by developing an "Oceans and Aquaculture Action Plan"; 
  • The establishment of ambitious and binding biodiversity spending and climate mainstreaming targets in the 2021-2027 EU budget which go beyond the levels of targeted spending shares as set out in Parliament’s Interim report (i.e. going beyond 30%);
  • The placement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals at the centre of the EU’s policy-making process and implementation, and the fulfilment of Scenario 1 of the “Reflection Paper towards a sustainable Europe by 2030” requiring, inter alia, that a sustainability first principle is integrated into the Better Regulation Agendas of the EU and its Member States;
  • A comprehensive financing plan which well exceeds the conservative figure of EUR 260 billion annually stated by the Commission, which does not consider for instance the investment needs for climate adaptation and for other environmental challenges such as biodiversity, or the public investment needed to address social costs;
  • An ambitious new circular economy action plan, which must aim to reduce the total environmental and resource footprint of EU production and consumption, as well as the establishment of an EU-level target for resource-efficiency;
  • Designated binding national targets for each Member State set through revised Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Directives.
European Parliament, Brussels
© © Loic Delvaulx