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‘Unprecedented’ environmental challenges

December 20th, 2019 10:05 PM

By Southern Star Team

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THE EU needs to take urgent action if it is to achieve its climate and environment goals for 2030, according to a report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) earlier this month.

In the 496-page analysis on ‘The European environment – state & outlook 2020’ on December 4th, officials at the Copenhagen-based agency say that ‘despite the success of EU environmental policies, the outlook for Europe’s environment is discouraging.’

‘The current rate of progress will not be sufficient to meet 2030 and 2050 climate and energy targets,’ EEA representatives warn. There is a need to put policy into action, they outline.

‘Full implementation of existing policies would take Europe a long way to achieving its environmental goals,’ they elaborate. The EEA describes environmental challenges facing Europe as being ‘of unprecedented scale and urgency.’

EU climate and environment policies had delivered substantial benefits, but the bloc faces ‘persistent problems in areas such as biodiversity loss, resource use, climate change impacts and environmental risks to health and well being. ‘Europe continues to consume more resources and contribute more to environmental degradation than other world regions,’ EEA explains, while also pointing out that ‘European citizens are increasingly voicing their frustration with the shortfalls in environment and climate governance.’

As the new Commission College finds its feet (in office since December 1st), officials were putting the finishing touches to the Communication on the European Green Deal, unveiled on December 11th. During her address before the COP25 Climate Conference in Madrid on December 2nd, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hailed the flagship initiative as ‘Europe’s new growth strategy.’

The 61-year-old German politician said it would ‘cut emissions while also creating jobs and improving our quality of life.’ There would have to be ‘investment in research, innovation, green technologies,’ while she promised a ‘Sustainable Europe Investment Plan, which will support one trillion euros of investment over the next decade.’

The Commission would propose a European Climate Law ‘to make the transition to climate neutrality irreversible,’ in March 2020, von der Leyen added. Other pledges included an EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 (expected by March 2020), outlining the ‘EU’s vision for leading the world towards an ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework.’

A new EU Forest Strategy ‘with objectives for afforestation and forest restoration in Europe,’ is also in the pipeline, while the EU’s executive will seek to ‘assess demand-side regulatory and non-regulatory measures to support deforestation-free value chains and minimise the risk of deforestation and forest degradation with imports.’

• Rose O’Donovan is editor-in-chief of the Brussels-based agricultural publication AGRA FACTS.

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