The Case for an EU Climate and Nature Chief

As a first step, von der Leyen should appoint a climate and biodiversity vice president to work hand in glove with the sector-focused commissioners.

The European Union needs a dedicated official to ensure that all EU climate policies are also geared toward protecting nature from the existential risk of both these tipping points. Without such a role, we will not properly manage the emergency at hand.

Since the Industrial Revolution, roughly half of annual fossil-fuel emissions have been absorbed by the land's ecosystems and oceans. Without these natural buffers, the world would have warmed by more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels long ago.

Hence, by preserving and restoring ecosystems and the wildlife that keeps them viable today, we can advance the push for net-zero emissions by 2050.

At the same time, stemming climate change will help save the natural world on which we rely for food, clean air and water, medicines, jobs and livelihoods and much more.

We cannot live without biodiversity, and biodiversity cannot survive without our protection. Providing it is not a burden, but will lead to enormous savings in health costs, future jobs and European competitiveness.

For her part, von der Leyen wants to raise the European Union's emissions-reduction target from 40 per cent by 2030 to at least 55 per cent. But European leaders have yet to grasp that tackling climate change also means protecting nature.

Measures to address both issues are mutually reinforcing.

When Central and Eastern European countries resist tougher climate policies, they often cite concerns about industrial job losses and foregone prosperity.

If they had only understood that climate policies and environmental protections would...

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