chapter  12
The greening of the EU? A Christian assessment of the EU’s environmental policies for biodiversity and nature
Pages 21

The aim of this chapter is to assess the effectiveness of the European Union’s environmental policy and legislation for biodiversity and nature and to analyse the values underlying them from a Christian theological perspective. This will be achieved in two stages: firstly, by analysing the evolution of European Union (EU) nature conservation legislation and biodiversity policy, the extent to which they are becoming ‘greener’, and the values underlying such policy; secondly, by exploring the role of values in the application of EU environmental law to a case study in Portugal. Policy-making is ultimately rooted in underlying principles and values, and EU environmental policy is no exception. Debates about environmental protection turn significantly on how much value the natural environment is given compared to other policy priorities and why. The case study examined here reveals a growing parting of the ways between the utilitarian economic agenda increasingly driving official EU environmental policy and an assumption that certain environmental goods have an ‘intrinsic value’ – an assumption that remains widely endorsed among EU citizens and that finds robust support in a Christian environmental ethic. Given the wide scope of EU environmental policy, in this chapter we focus

on the specific policy area of nature and biodiversity, one of the largest and most important policy areas dealt with by the European Commission’s Environment Directorate-General. Climate change policy, another very important area of environmental policy-making, is not included within this analysis, as this has not been dealt with by the EC Environment DirectorateGeneral since 2010 when the new EC Climate Action Directorate-General was created. Additionally, in recent years climate change has received much greater attention from Christian authors than the issue of biodiversity loss.1