The EU needs to halt biodiversity loss by 2020 and to restore biodiversity wherever feasible, says Parliament in a resolution approved on Tuesday. MEPs deeply regret that the aim of halting biodiversity loss by 2010 has not been met and they believe that biodiversity conservation should be mainstreamed in all EU policy areas.
Biodiversity loss has high costs
MEPs "deeply regret" that the EU aim of halting biodiversity loss by 2010 has not been met. This failure to stop biodiversity loss is "ethically, ecologically and economically unacceptable", they add. A European Commission assessment in 2008 found that 50% of species and up to 80% of habitats in Europe are under threat, and some studies estimate that the cost of welfare loss from biodiversity loss, currently about €50 billion per year, will rise to €14 trillion or 7% of estimated GDP, per year by 2050.
"We have a moral responsibility to leave the earth to our children and grandchildren in such a state that they can still do something with it", said rapporteur Esther De Lange (EPP, NL).
The EU's new headline target of halting biodiversity loss and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020 and restoring them where feasible is nonetheless welcomed in the report, which looks at the implementation of EU biodiversity conservation law.
MEPs stress that "halting biodiversity loss constitutes the absolute minimum level of ambition to be realised by 2020" and call on the Commission to ensure that biodiversity is further mainstreamed in other EU policy areas – such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, regional policy and cohesion, industry, development co-operation, research and innovation. The EU should also strive to step up international efforts to avert biodiversity loss and thus help to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, they add.
Public and private funding
MEPs believe that public spending alone will not suffice to achieve the EU headline target and they therefore underline the importance of corporate responsibility in protecting biodiversity. The Commission is asked to look at ways of implementing policies that encourage investment in conserving biodiversity and discourage investment that impacts on biodiversity, in both the public and private sectors. MEPs also underline the need to incorporate external costs and risks, such as the damage done to biodiversity or costs incurred to support biodiversity, in the final price of products placed on the market.
The resolution was approved by a show of hands.