Ireland secures crucial EU backing for new nature law

Ireland secures crucial EU backing for new nature law

Eamon Ryan

Ireland and Germany have secured the backing of nine other EU member states in a bid to have the proposed Nature Restoration Law (NRL) approved next month.

France, Spain, Denmark, Luxembourg, Czechia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprus have signed up to approve the NRL ahead of the next Environmental Council meeting on 17 June.

The Irish government says the NRL is “on a knife edge” because of “backtracking on previously agreed compromises”. A majority vote is now necessary at the Environmental Council meeting to ensure it becomes law.

Ireland’s environment and climate minister Eamon Ryan, along with government colleague Malcolm Noonan, wrote to fellow ministers across the EU, arguing that it is vital for member states to show leadership and unity on the law to restore Europe’s already degraded nature.

A new letter signed by environment ministers across the 11 member states urges their counterparts in the remaining 16 member states to “act urgently and decisively to conclude the political process” next month.

Speaking today, Mr Ryan said: “Europe is the fastest warming continent in the world and is facing unprecedented impacts from the intertwined nature and climate crises. Restoring ecosystems is essential to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, and to safeguard European food security.

“We must act urgently and decisively to conclude the political process. Failure to do so would be a carte blanche to destroy nature and would fundamentally undermine public faith in the EU’s political leadership at home and internationally.”

Mr Noonan added: “Europe made a commitment to be a global leader in nature restoration and to adhere to the ambition set out in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) which was adopted by 196 countries, including the European Union and Member States, in December 2022. Failure to uphold this is unconscionable.

“We will have to go to the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in October later this year and say we are resiling from our international promises to protect our lands and seas. Worse, we will seriously undermine efforts across the EU to restore our damaged and degraded ecosystems.

“People depend on nature for much more than we realise. This isn’t just about protecting the natural world, it’s about protecting civilisation and life as we know it.”

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