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European Green Deal: A Turning Point for Nature & Climate?

Posted on December, 11 2019

The European Parliament and EU governments must now translate the many good intentions into meaningful action with clear timelines and concrete measures
Today’s communication on a European Green Deal by the European Commission clearly recognises the environmental challenges the world is facing, and provides new impetus for action. However, only the concrete legislative and policy proposals expected in the coming months will show the extent to which the Commission is actually committed to heeding scientific recommendations for urgent and far-reaching transformational change.

The proposed package is comprehensive, identifying the right areas for action - from biodiversity and nature restoration to climate change and stopping deforestation - and it presents us with a number of new and potentially transformational initiatives,” said Ester Asin, Director of the European Policy Office.However, by emphasising continued economic growth as a key objective, the Commission has missed an opportunity to challenge the traditional growth paradigm in favour of an approach that would respect planetary boundaries. Can such ‘in the box’ thinking achieve the deep systemic change that was promised?” 
Many of the proposed measures are critical for Central and Eastern Europe. The European Green Deal mentions that Member States should reinforce cross-border cooperation to protect and restore Natura 2000 areas more effectively, and that strategic plans for agriculture are to be assessed against robust climate and environmental criteria. A nature restoration plan and a European Forest Strategy are also foreseen.

Europe must show urgent action to address the loss of nature and the commitment to preserve and restore our ecosystems and biodiversity from the European Green Deal remains to be turned into concrete action. We expect the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 targets that the EU commits to in the Green Deal to include legally binding targets for Member States with concrete actions that will ensure countries deliver by 2030 on improving the conservation status of species and habitats, and on investing in restoration of degraded habitats and ecological connectivity.”  - Ana Maria Seman, Regional Policy Lead, WWF Central and Eastern Europe
WWF's Preliminary Analysis of the European Green Deal

"The EU must get climate-neutral to stand a chance of fighting the climate crisis. Putting this into law, as proposed today, is a crucial step which EU leaders must get behind tomorrow. But the urgency expressed on the streets and by the science is still missing. The EU must increase its 2030 climate target to 65% in early 2020 to show the world it is moving and inspire others to do likewise. The climate crisis cannot wait," - Imke Luebekke, Head of Climate at the WWF European Policy Office.    

Following strong recent signals on sustainable finance, including the EIB’s decision to stop financing fossil fuels as of 2021, so far the proposed Sustainable Europe Investment Plan of 1 trillion EUR seems to be a mere repackaging of existing initiatives without any commitment for additional money. This attempt of selling old wine in new bottles has no added value and is deeply misleading- Sebastien Godinot, Head of Sustainable Finance at WWF European Policy Office.

The upcoming European Council and Environmental Council following in a few days should be a platform for forward looking discussions. We expect EU Countries from the Green Heart of Europe to show strong support for the commitments under the European Green Deal towards protecting the biodiversity richness of the region and enabling our economies and regions to transition to a climate neutral future.” - Ana Maria Seman

Ana Maria Seman
Regional Policy Lead,
WWF Central and Eastern Europe, Tel: +40 21 317 49 96

Angelika Pullen
Communication Director,
WWF European Policy Office, Tel: +32 473 947 966

Europe must urgently address its ongoing loss of nature, which also exacerbates the climate crisis.