Environmental Law News Update

April 17, 2024

Jemima Lovatt

In this latest Environmental Law News Update, Jemima Lovatt considers recent developments in EU legislation.

New EU Sustainability Bill

The new EU Sustainability Bill, recently given initial approval, represents a landmark step towards holding corporations accountable for their impact on human rights and the environment. At its core, the bill seeks to ensure that businesses operating within the EU prioritise sustainability and social responsibility, reflecting a growing global concern for ethical business practices. One key aspect of the Bill is its requirement for companies to conduct due diligence throughout their supply chains, identifying and addressing any negative impacts on human rights, environmental sustainability, and good governance. This provision aims to prevent issues such as forced labour, child labour, deforestation, and pollution, which are often associated with irresponsible corporate practices.

Moreover, the Bill introduces a legal duty for companies to adopt measures that mitigate their adverse impacts on human rights and the environment. This obligation extends beyond just identifying problems to actively taking steps to address and prevent them, fostering a culture of corporate responsibility and accountability. Importantly, the Bill includes provisions for effective enforcement mechanisms and penalties for non-compliance. This underscores the EU’s commitment to ensuring that the legislation is not merely symbolic but has real teeth in holding corporations accountable for their actions.

Overall, the EU Sustainability Bill represents a significant stride towards aligning corporate interests with broader societal and environmental goals. By mandating responsible business practices and accountability measures, the legislation aims to promote a more sustainable and ethical approach to business within the EU and sets a precedent for similar initiatives worldwide.


MEPs support new law to monitor soil health

MEPs have backed a ground breaking law designed to rejuvenate and safeguard European soil health. The legislation aims to address soil degradation, a pressing issue exacerbated by factors such as pollution, intensive agriculture, and urbanisation, which threaten the fertility and biodiversity of European soils.

Central to the proposed law is the establishment of binding targets for soil restoration across the EU member states. These targets aim to reverse the damage done to soil quality and promote sustainable land management practices. By setting specific objectives, the law seeks to hold governments accountable for ensuring the health and vitality of their soil ecosystems. Additionally, the legislation includes measures to enhance soil monitoring and data collection, providing policymakers with the information needed to make informed decisions about soil conservation and restoration efforts. This emphasis on data-driven governance reflects a commitment to evidence-based policymaking in addressing environmental challenges.

Furthermore, the law encourages the adoption of nature-based solutions, such as afforestation and organic farming, to promote soil regeneration and biodiversity conservation. By integrating natural processes into land management practices, the legislation seeks to foster resilience in European ecosystems while mitigating the impacts of climate change. Overall, the backing of MEPs for this law signals a significant step forward in the EU’s efforts to protect and restore soil health. By prioritizing sustainable land management and biodiversity conservation, the legislation aims to ensure the long-term viability of European soils and the ecosystems they support.


Council of European Union adopts directive to protect wildlife with criminal sanction

The Council of the European Union has approved a directive aimed at bolstering the protection of wildlife through criminal law. This directive marks a significant step forward in combating environmental crimes within the EU. The directive expands the range of offences related to wildlife protection to 20, encompassing a broader scope of illegal activities that harm biodiversity and ecosystems.

Key provisions of the directive include stricter sanctions and penalties for offenders. By imposing tougher consequences for environmental crimes, such as illegal wildlife trafficking and habitat destruction, the directive aims to deter individuals and organisations from engaging in such activities. These penalties serve as a deterrent while also reflecting the severity of the offences and the importance of preserving wildlife and natural habitats. Moreover, the directive emphasises the need for effective enforcement measures to ensure compliance with environmental laws. It calls for enhanced cooperation among EU member states in investigating and prosecuting environmental crimes, and facilitating the exchange of information and expertise to combat illegal activities effectively.

The adoption of this directive underscores the EU’s commitment to safeguarding biodiversity and combating wildlife crime. By strengthening the legal framework and expanding the list of offences, the directive seeks to address gaps in existing legislation and provide authorities with the tools necessary to combat environmental threats effectively. Overall, the directive represents a significant milestone in the EU’s efforts to protect wildlife and natural habitats. Through comprehensive legal measures and increased penalties, the EU aims to deter environmental crimes and promote the conservation of biodiversity for future generations.