Good for climate, economy and health

Tourists walk in a nature park in Germany among dead trees.Image Getty Images

The backing of Europe’s largest companies is a welcome boost for European Commissioner Frans Timmermans. After all, the Nature Restoration Act is an important part of his Green Deal, but it faces resistance from member states – including the Netherlands – and the Christian Democratic group in the European Parliament. The group, which includes the Community Development Authority, left negotiations on the law two weeks ago and is expected to vote against it. According to their opinion, the plans will harm European agriculture and hinder infrastructure projects.

In a joint statement, more than sixty large companies took these arguments off the table. Habitat restoration, as envisioned in the law, they say, “will ultimately help address the climate crisis, ensure our long-term food and water security, and preserve and create jobs.” They stress the importance of “healthier soil, reliable water supplies, abundant fish populations, and many pollinators” for food production and human well-being.

About the author
Martin Albers is the general correspondent for De Volkskrant.

Among the signatories are companies with clearly green profiles, such as the search engine Ecosia and Triodos Bank, but also leading multinationals such as Coca Cola, Ikea, H&M and Nestlé.

Essential tool

These same companies have come under fire on several occasions for inadequate or unambitious climate and environmental measures. However, they are now calling for an ambitious and legally binding “Nature Restoration Act to bring nature back to Europe”. They say such a law is “an essential tool for addressing our climate and biodiversity crises, and for ensuring the long-term sustainability and viability of our society and economy.”

In an open letter, directors of more than fifty companies – some with the same names as those in the aforementioned statement – demanded the introduction of European legislation to protect and restore nature on Monday. It also calls for rules for the sustainable use of natural resources and enforcement of existing environmental legislation. By doing so, the EU will create a level playing field for all businesses in Europe.

Companies are keen to do their part, but write that “action at the necessary scale and speed” can only be achieved through legislation that supports such systemic change. In addition, the most advanced companies should be rewarded.

“The cost of inaction will bring far greater challenges and risks to the economy,” they wrote. They see a business model in nature conservation as this ultimately leads to cost savings in climate adaptation and natural disaster management, improved water, soil and air quality, and general welfare.

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