European Union lawmakers back a major plan to protect nature and fight climate change
The bill is a key part of the EU's vaunted European Green Deal that seeks to establish the world's most ambitious climate and biodiversity targets.
BRUSSELS: The European Union's parliament on Wednesday approved a major plan to protect nature and fight climate change in a cliffhanger vote.
In a test of the EU's global climate credentials, the legislature supported the general outlines of a European Commission plan in a razor-thin 324-312 vote with 12 abstentions.
The bill is a key part of the EU's vaunted European Green Deal that seeks to establish the world's most ambitious climate and biodiversity targets and make the bloc the global point of reference on all climate issues.
The plans proposed by the European Commission, the EU's executive branch, set binding restoration targets for specific habitats and species, with the aim by 2030 to cover at least 20 per cent of the region's land and sea areas.
After weeks of intense haggling and despite the staunch opposition of the legislature's biggest group, the European People's Party, the plan survived in the highly anticipated vote at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.
Immediately, legislators started voting on more than 100 amendments to make the plan more flexible.
The approved amendments will be taken into negotiations with the member states which will take months before a final law can be approved.
The European Commission wants the nature restoration law to be a key part of the system since it's necessary for the overall deal to have the maximum impact.
Others say that if the EU fails on the nature restoration law, it would indicate overall fatigue on climate issues.
The bill long looked like a shoo-in as it gathered widespread support in member nations and was staunchly defended by the European Commission and its president, Ursula von der Leyen.
But von der Leyen's own political group, the Christian Democrat EPP, turned sour on it and now vehemently opposes it, claiming it will affect food security and undermine the income of farmers and disgruntle a European population focused more on jobs and their wallets.
Like some nations and leaders, they want to hit pause on such far-reaching climate legislation.