Europe and Central Asia
30 Jun 2015

Bye-bye Latvia, hello there Luxembourg

Forest in Luxembourg © K. Michiels
By Tatiana Nemcová

It’s not top secret that the Informal Councils of each European Council Presidency are opportunities for that country to get their pet topics onto the EU’s radar. The Latvian Presidency, which just finished their six-month term made sure that one of the things they did was speak with Environment and Energy Ministers about EU biodiversity targets and how to achieve goals in harmony with climate and energy. Luxembourg, which has just taken the reigns, has a chance to build on this and set the stage for economic yet sustainable prosperity in Europe.

One crucial thing the Luxembourg Presidency can do is secure renewed political commitment that the EU delivers on its 2020 Biodiversity Strategy, the blueprint and gauge for EU action to safeguard our ecosystems. We know from BirdLife’s recent Assessment that Europe is far from halting biodiversity loss and achieving its 2011 commitments. The Birds and Habitats Directives which has delivered for biodiversity need to stay at the heart of EU’s conservation efforts. But besides this, Luxembourg will need to dig a little deeper because it’s lack of real integration of biodiversity consideration into sectoral policies and inadequate financing which are the true culprits threatening European biodiversity and nature. It’s high time that Ministers, and indeed the Commission, get serious about delivering on what they first promised in 2002, and then again 4 years ago.

With climate change as one of the biggest threats, energy efficiency and a move towards more renewable energies will also be crucial. But not all renewable energy is created equal as we know, and some types have had a negative impact on biodiversity. As the Commission starts working on the new EU Renewables package, it’s crucial that Luxembourg gives input and ensures that the new policy is much more ambitious and sustainable than the current one. This includes all the right safeguards and procedures ensuring that biodiversity consideration are taken into account. Biomass is one of the areas where special attention in needed. Only biomass with low environmental risks and climate impacts should be incentivised as part of the EU’s renewable energy package of the 2030 climate and energy framework. But this will require new and honest assessments of the true climate impact of the various types of bioenergy available.

It’s not targets, graphs or indicators which are at play here, but bees, birds and entire ecosystems. They are at the heart of our lives and our economies. The Luxembourg Presidency has a chance to set the bar high across Europe. BirdLife Europe and its Luxembourg Partner natur&ëmwelt a.s.b.l. are looking forward to working with them to be sure the path that Europe follows sets the stage for economic and sustainable prosperity.

Tatiana Nemcová is an external consultant for BirdLife Europe and the RSPB

This article appears in our July 2015 newsletter. Sign up here to read more stories like this.

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