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Blog: Our environmental ambitions should not be put on hold

Politico published an article concerning the growing criticism among many developing countries towards the EU’s environmental legislation. Representing a market of half a billion people with a high consumption footprint, the European Union is putting indirect pressure on third countries as they are increasingly required to comply with the same rules if they intend to sell their goods on the internal market.

While this frustration may be understandable as EU domestic policies impact third countries in their own sustainable development strategies, the EU should maintain its current level of ambition if it intends to become climate neutral by 2050 and reduce biodiversity loss as it has previously pledged.

This approach should be combined with an adequate cooperation policy with developing countries to address their need for substantial technical and financial support to convert their production so that they can comply with the EU’s latest requirements. This element should also be prominent in future EU bilateral and multilateral negotiations to avoid the general perception of “regulatory imperialism” stated in Politico’s article.

The EU should not restrict itself to the current achievements of the green transition as it represents only the first steps in the right direction. Our whole perception of how to treat nature has to change. The latest environmental crises, such as global warming, biodiversity loss and ocean acidification have made it amply clear that we have lost our understanding of ecological interlinkages that prevailed in earlier civilizations.

From now on, climate and biodiversity impacts should be considered as a starting point to any future economic activities. In addition, our relationship to the use of land, forests and other species should change completely. They form an integral part of the living community, whereby they should be treated with respect and used within the limits of our ecosystems.

In our current societies, such concepts may seem unheard of. I am convinced, however, that they form the basis for a regenerative planet, which is the only solution if we are to break our current deadly spiral of excessive consumption and material growth, which are taking us ever closer to an environmental catastrophe.

Eero Yrjö-Koskinen, IEEP Executive Director

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