Climate change: Ursula von der Leyen promises a “green deal” with the EU
Last week, the European Commission released a broad set of climate policies that included binding targets for countries to restore and grow forests, peatlands and other natural ‘carbon sinks’ that suck CO2 from the earth. atmosphere.
Policies demand better protections for forests, which have shrunk due to logging, demand for biomass energy, and aggravated threats from climate change such as forest fires and pests.
But 11 member states are already rebelling against the flagship plan, complaining that forestry should not fall under EU competence.
Romanian Environment Minister Tanczos Barna said on Monday that his country supports the European Commission’s plan to protect forests and harness their ability to tackle climate change, but more discussions are needed to clarify the objectives and sources of funding.
He said several EU states, including Romania, which own most of Europe’s old-growth forests, would end up taking on a larger share of the monitoring and protection tasks.
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“A European forestry strategy is needed,” Mr Barna told reporters.
“Clear and ambitious goals are needed, very clear definitions of old-growth, secular and primary forests are needed so that each member state knows exactly what its obligations are.
“Funding must also be discussed, the terms of funding and the support that Member States will get when they commit to extremely ambitious goals.”
Mr Barna said Romania was one of 11 member states, including Austria, Germany, Finland, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, which signed an open letter at the end of the last week asking Brussels to organize focused debates on the strategy.
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He added: “It should be noted that at EU level, four countries will bear the cost of this monitoring and protection of virgin forests, as they have been defined so far: Romania, Bulgaria, Finland and Sweden.
“Thus most forests over 100 years old will be concentrated in several Member States and that is why Romania’s interest is that this forestry strategy, beyond the obligations, establish the conditions of financing and support that the Member States will get when they take on the ambitious targets. “
Romania, home to some of Europe’s last remaining virgin forests and diverse wildlife, loses an average of 20 million cubic meters of timber each year due to illegal logging.
Austrian MPs also fear a 10 percent drop in timber production – a blow to the industry as forests cover 50 percent of Austria.
Agriculture Minister Elisabeth Köstinger said: “In Austria we want to push back fossil resources by using more wood, because we want to prioritize renewable resources. “
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The Austrian forestry association also lambasted the plans, saying the EU would try to compensate for their alleged late response to climate change by overburdening the forestry sector and thereby depriving companies of their “revenue base”.
The European Union’s massive policy package to deliver on its pledge to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 55% from 1990 levels by 2030 has drawn opposition from climate activists and even within the executive of the European Commission.
Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg questioned the level of ambition.
“Unless the EU rips up its new Fitfor55 package, the world will have no chance of staying below 1.5 ° C of global warming. That’s not an opinion, once you include the full picture, it’s a scientific fact. MindTheGap between words and action, “she tweeted.
Greenpeace was another high profile dissident.
“Celebrating these policies is like a high jumper claiming a medal for running under the bar,” said group EU director Jorgo Riss.
Green politicians in the European Parliament, who had pushed for a 60% reduction in emissions by 2030, welcomed the proposals but identified opportunities for improvement.
Some politicians have proposed time horizons of several years, which activists and environmental politicians consider too long.
“Despite all the hype, many policies will not come into effect for 10 years or more, such as the new dirty cars still being sold until 2035,” Greenpeace’s Riss said.
Combustion engines are also a scarecrow for the Verts / ALE group in the European Parliament, which has called for their sale to end by 2030.
The inclusion of biomass, produced from the combustion of pellets or wood chips, in its energy plans, has also been a source of division.
“Others (other policies) will actually fuel the fire, like labeling tree burning as renewable energy,” Riss added.