“We call on Member States to immediately reverse the degradation trend in European ecosystems and jointly tackle the climate and biodiversity crises”  – Chiara Martinelli, Director CAN Europe

In 2023, CAN Europe continued to push the EU to raise climate ambitions. As a part of this effort, the newly agreed Fit for 55 climate proposals were closely scrutinised, with a focus on the Emissions Trading System (ETS), the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR) and the Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF). The final laws that were adopted represent an important step forward in EU climate policy, however, CAN Europe stressed that the package falls short on the required ambition to align with the 1.5°C goal and equity calls. Simultaneously, CAN Europe engaged in the process leading up to the Commission proposal for the EU 2040 climate target. Our contributions were put forward in a range of stakeholder consultations, where we presented the network’s views on the required ambition level and policy framework needed to achieve climate neutrality by 2040 at the latest. Our efforts to bring science to the centre of the debate have also been rewarded; with the recommendations of the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change (ESABCC) on the EU 2040 climate target now being closely listened to in political discussion, with the new Climate Commissioner, Wopke Hoekstra, and Commission Executive Vice-President on the European Green Deal, Maroš Šefčovič, committing to follow the minimum target that the scientific body suggests.

2023 also saw the crucial proposal of the Nature Restoration Law, reinforcing the importance of biodiversity in the climate agenda. Despite an intense disinformation campaign against the proposal, civil society organisations and progressive businesses formed a strong #RestoreNature coalition to share knowledge and push stronger legislation. The final inter-institutional agreement was reached in November and was approved by the European Parliament’s Environment Committee (ENVI). CAN Europe was an active member of this large coalition of NGOs and, in parallel, together with many of our members, also focused on the forest ecosystem elements. In parallel, a robust #RestoreNature communications campaign was run to rebut false claims that were sadly dominating the political discussion.

Finally, CAN Europe actively engaged with the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament on the carbon removals certification framework (CRCF) legislation during 2023. This was to ensure that carbon removals and sequestration do not hinder, but support mitigation efforts. The advocacy efforts were aimed at closing loopholes in carbon removal reporting and ensuring that the role of land-based activities were first and foremost, nature and biodiversity.