On 4 March 2020 the Commission presented its European Climate Law, describing how the European Union plans to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The Climate Law states that the role of carbon dioxide (CO2) absorption (negative emissions) is key to achieving climate neutrality, but the bulk of the legislation, targets and actions to mobilise ecosystem restoration will likely be housed in the Biodiversity Strategy, anticipated 24 March.
A draft version of the Biodiversity Strategy offers some clues about what the plans are, and crucially, what must remain in the final version.
The headline objective is that biodiversity should be “on a path to recovery” by 2030. The draft states that the EU will work on an ambitious Nature Restoration Plan which would include a new legal framework for the restoration of healthy EU ecosystems, including a target for CO2 that can be removed by restored natural ecosystems, as well as funding to enact the plan in the order of €20 billion per year.
That this draft Strategy bridges climate and biodiversity action is crucial for effective policy. It proposes ties with climate legislation, such as an “integrated climate change monitoring and modelling tool”, which would ensure that environmental actions are counted as actions to achieve climate targets. It also proposes including guidelines for close-to-nature forestry that prioritises forest health and integrating biodiversity considerations into the review of the Renewable Energy Directive in order to prevent the use of whole trees for energy. These are key elements that must not be lost in the final version if Europe is to achieve its climate goals in a way that tackles the biodiversity crisis.