Request Free Trial
November 29, 2023

Brussels Briefing: Green lights for nature restoration bill and industrial emissions law

Dune ecosystem nature restoration
The EU’s Nature Restoration Law aims to restore nature in 20% of the bloc’s land and sea areas by 2030, and in all degraded areas by 2050 (Photo: Luisvilanova/Envato)

Less ambitious than originally proposed, the EU Nature Restoration Law should nevertheless now become reality

The controversial EU Nature Restoration Law has been given the green light by the European parliament’s environment committee, much to the relief of environmental campaigners.

“Many ecosystems and species in Europe are on the brink of disappearing forever, but this law could be a first step to turn that around,” said Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe biodiversity expert Špela Bandelj Ruiz in a statement.

Anouk Puymartin, policy manager at non-profit BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, said the law would play a “key part in protecting citizens and ensuring Europe’s resilience and survival in the face of climate change”.

The legislation, aimed at restoring nature in 20 per cent of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030, and in all degraded areas by 2050, has also received strong backing from business, with companies including Nestlé and Unilever supporting ambitious nature restoration targets. More than 80 per cent of European habitats are deemed to be in poor shape.

The final step is for the law to be rubber-stamped by the parliament in plenary, a vote likely to take place in February 2024.

Industrial Emissions Directive

Some green groups were, however, less enthusiastic about the decision reached by the European Commission, parliament and national governments on the EU Industrial Emissions Directive and its application to agricultural pollution.

“The updated law will help guide industrial investments necessary for Europe’s transformation towards a cleaner, carbon neutral, more circular and competitive economy by 2050,” the commission said in a statement.

“It will spur innovation, reward frontrunners and help level the playing field on the EU market, and increase long-term investment certainty for industry,” it added.

The revised law will also cover installations used for the extraction of metals and large-scale production of batteries, and the largest pig and poultry farms, though the inclusion of cattle farms will only be assessed at a later stage. Farms covered by the law will benefit from a lighter permitting regime than industrial installations.

The final deal also agrees the creation of an Innovation Centre for Industrial Transformation and Emissions to help industry identify “pollution control solutions and transformative technologies”, the commission said.

Meanwhile, operators of industrial installations will need to develop transformation plans in line with the EU’s 2050 net zero pollution, circular economy and decarbonisation goals.

Finally, the measures set out the penalties industrial installations will incur for breaking the law and opportunities for citizens to seek compensation.

On the exclusion of cattle farms, Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero said in a statement: “You have to ask yourself why these politicians fought so hard to give the 1 per cent biggest cow factories, the absolute most polluting, a free pass. The European countryside is drowning in manure, and our clean air, fresh water and safe climate are going down the drain with it.”

The deal now has to be formally approved by the European parliament and national ministers.

A service from the Financial Times