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The European Parliament on Wednesday agreed on legally binding targets to protect and restore nature in the European Union, CNN reported.
The law will also require countries to restore 20 percent of their lands and sea by 2030 — a significant step but short of the “30 by 30” goal that most conservationists and scientists have called for to stem the tide of species extinctions and climate change.
The move came as Europe withers under intense heat, with summer temperatures in some places in Spain topping 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and records falling from Greece to Germany.
The leadup to the bill’s passage was equally hot, as it was bitterly opposed and barely passed, with 336 votes in favor to 300 against (with 13 abstaining).
Conservationists praised the news — but noted that much more action remains.
“Codified targets for restoring degraded nature are a meaningful step forward,” said Herbert Lust, senior vice president at Conservation International-Europe. “But stepping is no longer sufficient — we must leap. While this is a marked improvement over no law, it falls short of the 30 percent target agreed to by all EU states, and it is less than what the European Parliament itself called for in 2020.”
Next up: Negotiations on a final version could take months, The New York Times reported. But the vote essentially means the bloc is now required in principle to pass the measure into law, according to the Times.
“We hope that this law’s passage will be just the beginning of exponential progress,” Lust said, “and that the EU will continue asserting its climate and biodiversity leadership through increasingly bold legislative action.”