The current level of ambition of environment and related policies within the European Commission will not deliver Europe’s long-term goal of “living well, within the limits of our planet”, according to a new report.
The European Commission’s new report, European Environment — State and Outlook 2015 Report, shows that a “coordinated EU environment policy has delivered substantial benefits for citizens over the past five years,” according to the Commission.
Europeans enjoy cleaner air and water, send less waste to landfill and recycle more; while environmental policies drive jobs and growth.
But the report warns that Europe’s long-term goal of “living well, within the limits of our planet” – the aim of the General Union Environment Action Programme (7th EAP) – cannot be achieved with the current level of ambition of environment and related policies.
The report, prepared by the European Environment Agency, is an integrated assessment of Europe’s environment that includes data at global, regional and country levels, as well as cross-country comparisons.
Vella – “We must stay ever vigilant to ensure that good policy, well implemented, means excellent environmental results both on land and at sea. Innovative investment to safeguard prosperity and quality of life are a priority. The long-term investment we make today can ensure that in 2050 we live well, and within the limits of the planet”
It also looks at the next five years and beyond and sends a clear warning of the risks of environmentaldeterioration, in turn affecting human well-being and prosperity.
The analysis calls for more integrated policy making – a call the Commission is responding to with a series of environmental initiatives for 2015, including a new, broader package on the circular economy, a review of the EU Biodiversity Strategy, an action plan on Ocean Governance and a modified air quality package.
European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella (pictured) said: “I see the State of the Environment Report 2015 as the ‘starting line’ of my mandate. The report clearly shows that EU environmental policies are delivering benefits. Environmental policies are also delivering jobs. The rapid growth of the green economy even during the worst years of the recession bodes well for Europe’s competitiveness.
“We must stay ever vigilant to ensure that good policy, well implemented, means excellent environmental results both on land and at sea. Innovative investment to safeguard prosperity and quality of life are a priority. The long-term investment we make today can ensure that in 2050 we live well, and within the limits of the planet.”
The Report makes clear that protecting the environment is a solid economic investment. Between 2000 and 2011, green industries grew by more than 50% in the EU, making them one of the few sectors to have consistently flourished despite the crisis.
The Report also shows that waste management is improving, although the European economy remains far from circular, with too much waste buried underground and an untapped potential for recycling and energy recovery.
The Commission is aiming to redress the balance in 2015 with an ambitious circular economy package—to transform Europe into a more competitive resource-efficient economy, and address a range of economic sectors in addition to waste.
Getting most value from resources requires looking at all stages of the life cycle of products, from the extraction of raw materials through to product design, production, distribution and consumption; repair and re-use schemes; and waste management and increasing the use of secondary raw materials.
The report is published as Vella revealed that the waste target proposals in the “more ambitious” package will “be more country-specific.”
The Commission is aiming to re-table the new, “more ambitious” circular economy package late in 2015, after ditching the previous package at the end of 2014. (See CIWM Journal Online story).