Timmermans tells EU Agri Committee: food security depends on fixing climate and nature together

FRANS Timmermans, Executive Vice President for the European Green Deal at the European Commission, has spoken with both the Agriculture Committee and the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety in the European Parliament.

At the heart of these discussions were the European Commission’s proposals for a law to support nature restoration, and the proposal to cut the use and risk of chemical pesticides in half.

There is a fierce debate ongoing in the European Parliament about the substance and timing of these proposals.

Mr Timmermans said “We don’t have time to delay action. Last year’s droughts were the worst in 500 years. And just last week, the flash floods in Italy killed several people, with tens of thousands losing their homes. Half of crops depending on pollination already risk lacking pollinators. More than 60% of our soils are in an unhealthy condition. We need nature to become climate neutral. Natural carbon sinks like forests and soils depend on biodiversity for their resilience. Our cities need to be able to lower temperatures; the net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten average-sized air conditioners operating twenty hours a day.”

He said that “The European Commission is absolutely ready to discuss all details of these proposals with Parliament (and with the Council of the European Union) to help find solutions to difficult points. For example, on making it even more explicit that renewable energy is a priority, or to clear up the misunderstanding about looking at the nature losses over the past 70 years. Similarly, we will work on getting more alternative pesticides to the market faster. We have to ensure that this is a well-managed transition which benefits businesses, citizens and farmers.”

Explaining that the climate and biodiversity crises are here already, he said “They are bad for citizens, bad for farmers, bad for the economic outlook of our businesses. We cannot underestimate the seriousness of the threat we face and the small window of opportunity we still have left to do something serious about it. It is crucial for us to come together, find common ground, and forge a path forward.”

Mr Timmermans set out to connect the European Green Deal and the Nature Restoration Law. He said “The Green Deal is a package. The Nature Restoration Law is the equivalent of our Climate Law for biodiversity. You can’t say “I support the Green Deal, but not the ambition to restore nature”; it’s not an à la carte menu. We cannot reach climate neutrality or guarantee food production, farmers’ livelihoods and a prosperous bioeconomy unless we restore our nature. We cannot restore our nature unless we stop destroying it. We cannot give our farmers a decent income unless they can farm on healthy soils and in a healthy environment. We cannot make carbon farming work unless we restore nature and improve soil. We cannot be serious about food security unless we start fixing climate and nature together.”

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