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LIFE is the EU’s financial instrument supporting environmental, nature conservation and climate action projects throughout the EU. Since 1992, LIFE has co-financed more than 4500 projects. For the 2014-2020 funding period, LIFE will contribute approximately €3.4 billion to the protection of the environment and climate. Read more >>
22 November 2017Climate change is making floods in the north of Italy more frequent and less predictable. As part of the LIFE-funded PRIMES project, communities are learning to read early warning systems and respond together to future emergencies.
This month, dozens of citizens and volunteers in the region of Emilia-Romagna, around Bologna, in Italy, took part in a crisis simulation. Beneficiaries of the LIFE PRIMES project evacuated participants from their homes, and students from a school leaving them to rehearse what they had learnt about surviving floods. The role-playing exercise constituted the final step in a citizen outreach campaign this year to prepare the region for its next deluge.
Local authorities know all too well that floods cannot be avoided, they can only be prepared for.
16 November 2017Last week, London foodies gathered in Hackney to experience fine dining on typical household scraps. As part of the LIFE-funded TRiFOCAL project, a neighbourhood hangout feasted guests on ingredients other restaurants might have thrown away.
Recycling pieces of bread, meat and vegetables, its chefs put together three courses, including a carrot, rosemary and almond milk soup with croutons, and a first-class chicken curry. The meal constitutes a first step in a LIFE-funded campaign to teach Londoners how to eat healthy and live sustainably.
Last month, the European Commission adopted guidelines to facilitate food donation in the EU, a key deliverable of the Circular Economy Action Plan. “Around 550 000 tons of food are redistributed to 6.1 million people by food banks in the EU,” said European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis. “But that's only a fraction of the estimated volume of food which could be redistributed to prevent food waste and help fight food poverty.”
15 November 2017Climate talks get personal this week as Fiji’s presidency of the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23) calls for participation from citizens and civil society.
On cue, the LIFE Programme held a side-event in which NGOs, academics and private companies swapped tips on protecting the environment and financing climate action in the Talanoa spirit of open dialogue that climate negotiators are aspiring to in this year’s international climate talks.
During the opening session of COP23, Fiji’s Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, stressed the importance of work from non-state actors in tackling climate change. “We must make this effort more relevant to people’s lives,” said Mr Bainimarama. As a step in this direction, Fiji is “giving much more emphasis to the climate action zone” this year.
09 November 2017Grant recipients from across Europe converged on Brussels at the end of October to mark the launch of 139 new LIFE-funded projects. Having invested €222 million in these environmental initiatives, the LIFE programme invited its beneficiaries for a word of advice on how to run activities smoothly over the duration of their grant. The event also offered an emerging community of eco-peers the opportunity to swap ideas before getting to work.
Zsuzsanna Hercig, from the Ministry of Interior of Hungary, says that it was her first experience in Brussels. She has run other EU-funded projects back home and helped prepare a grant-winning proposal for the LIFE project MICACC. She says that she was heartened to meet representatives from EU institutions in person.
“This is the first LIFE project that our ministry has ever coordinated, and the first LIFE climate project in our country,” she said. “After the kick off meeting, I feel that the EU is trying to be as supportive as they can.”
08 November 2017Some of the EU’s most ancient plants are being wiped out by concrete and pollution. A recent report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says that a fifth of all fern and lycopod species in the Europe are declining or threatened with extinction.
This is the first report to examine the extinction risk of all ferns and lycopods in Europe. More than 20 experts participated in its two-year study, which was partially funded by the European Commission as part of the LIFE European Red Lists project.
“It is difficult to overestimate the importance of these ancient plants,” said Dr Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Director at the IUCN in Gland, Switzerland. “Protected areas, such as the Natura 2000 sites, must ensure better protection for these species, and their habitats must be restored.”
24 October 2017 Can nature protection be climate-friendly? Can climate-friendly nature protection create jobs and growth? How can EU countries achieve their commitments to halt climate change? LIFE IP-ZENAPA is a pioneering LIFE Integrated Project that is helping to answer all those vital questions. It is doing so by putting innovation into practice to cut greenhouse gas emissions in nature protection areas across Germany and parts of Luxembourg. The scope and scale of the project is enabling wind turbines, solar arrays, biogas, district heating, electric vehicles, energy-efficient lighting and other clean technologies to be deployed in nature parks and neighbouring towns and villages as never before. And these investments are expected to have benefits in terms of creating jobs, lowering the cost of lighting, transport and heating and enabling sustainable development of rural communities, as this new video from the LIFE Communications Team shows.
20 October 2017 LIFE projects are helping bring down the number of premature deaths linked to low air quality. Recent statistics from the European Environment Agency show that nearly 400 000 people died as a result of air pollution in Europe last year. Those numbers remain high, but they are falling.
In its latest report, the European Environmental Agency shows that the EU has reduced its emission of toxic gases and particulate matter. It states that most forms of air pollution have followed a downward trend in Europe for over a decade. This is partly due to the development of more efficient technology that allows cars and factories to run while burning less fuel. Still, not all regions have benefited equally from this technological progress. According to the report, air quality policies have proven instrumental in bringing about improvements.
23 October 2017 Civil society is helping climate negotiators thrash out plans to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. From 6-17 November, nearly 200 countries will meet at the COP23 climate talks in Bonn. Together they must figure out how to keep the temperature on Earth within two degrees of what it was before the industrial revolution. The scale of this challenge calls on new planning skills. As part of the LIFE-funded project MaxiMiseR, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is providing countries with tools to craft long-term strategies for reducing their carbon footprint.
The Paris Agreement in 2015 has clarified how little greenhouse gas world leaders, and the public that they represent, are still prepared to emit. But as countries scramble to clean up their act, policy makers must answer thorny questions on who will get to emit it, and who should pay for the damage that climate change is already causing. On 8 November, a side event at COP23 will introduce the insight of the MaxiMiseR project on the matter.
20 October 2017 Scrubbing Central Europe’s air clean of soot and preparing Danish utilities for the consequences of climate change are just two examples of LIFE-funded projects showcased in Brussels last week. The European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety reviewed the first steps of six so-called Integrated Projects spearheading the programme. These overarching projects are pushing through cross-sectoral reforms to better protect nature, the environment and the climate. Their upstream work is helping implement EU policy, and streamline green-minded initiatives across the EU. Initial results show progress in tackling systemic challenges that smaller projects have lacked the critical mass to address in the past.
“Integrated Projects are able to implement environmental legislation on a wider scale,” said Nicola Caputo, MEP of the S & D Group. This increases the impact of the LIFE programme in more ways than one.
17 October 2017 Conservationists are learning to restore habitats by reintroducing species that once lived in them. These human-moulded environments present challenges to populate, but some interventions are already showing results. At a two-day platform meeting on the “Reintroduction of species: a tool for the restoration of habitats” in Meise, Belgium, scientists and NGOs working on EU-funded restoration projects swapped tips on how to jump-start healthy ecosystems.
“Conservation has shifted its focus from keeping nature wild to keeping it alive,” said Dr. Joachim Mergeay from the Research Institute for Nature and Forest in Brussels, Belgium. He explains that in recent decades, efforts to minimise the intervention of humans on the environment have given way to a more proactive approach, in which scientists focus on boosting biodiversity instead, often by micromanaging natural habitats.
11 October 2017 Hungarian authorities have revealed that local households throw away twice as much food as previously estimated. The trend raises environmental concerns when extrapolated to other countries in the region. Far from returning to the ground it comes from, waste food pollutes Europe's air, rivers and soils. As part of the LIFE-funded FOODWASTEPREV project, teachers and officials are now chalking up lesson plans to keep tomorrow's food on our plates and out of our bins.
Until recently, international studies have focused on the refuse produced by a handful of particularly wasteful countries. Consumers in Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany notoriously throw away more than their own weight in edible food each year. Based on GDP per capita, experts have long assumed that Central and Eastern European countries such as Hungary squander much less food.
06 October 2017 Over 180 bears have been run over in Slovenia since 2005. For centuries, hunting and urbanisation have driven the country's brown bears (Ursus arctos) near to extinction.
Now cars and trains kill one in seven of them. In attempts to safeguard Slovenia's drivers and wildlife alike, LIFE-funded conservationists are fencing off highways and installing ultrasonic noise emitters.
05 October 2017 Recent sightings of the European storm petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus) on a once rat-infested island demonstrate a LIFE project's success at restoring local habitats.
Since 2014, conservationists have been trying to protect some of Northwest Europe's most threatened seabirds on the Shiant Isles Natura 2000 network site in northern Scotland. The islands are home to more than 150 000 seabirds that breed there each year.
02 October 2017 This issue of LIFEnews welcomes new projects joining the LIFE programme for the Environment and Climate Action. Our lead article toasts the 139 projects launched this year, offering a glimpse into their objectives and the €222 million budget that they will share.
Our second article peaks into this month's 629 LIFE project proposals that expert panels will be reviewing until March 2018 to select next year's LIFE grant recipients. We also take a quick trip through Poland's skies, prior to the European Clean Air Forum in November, and a dip in Italy's recently scrubbed seas to prepare for the Our Ocean conference in October.
28 September 2017The European Commission has approved an investment package of €222 million from the EU budget to support Europe's transition to more sustainable and low-carbon future under the LIFE programme for the Environment and Climate Action.
The EU funding will mobilise additional investments leading to a total of €377 million going towards 139 new projects in 20 Member States. Short summaries of each project can be found in this annex.
Read the press release
28 September 2017With the livelihood of three billion people at stake, world leaders are meeting in Malta next week to protect the seas on which jobs and food chains depend.
The two-day Our Ocean conference will bring together 50 heads of state and government ministers to address the mounting strains imposed on Earth’s oceans by overfishing, pollution and climate change. Two LIFE projects have been invited to share their know-how.
27 September 2017About a third of Europe's drinking water seeps away before it even reaches the consumer. Today, utility companies battling the loss have little access to the sort of smart technology that routinely flies planes, controls energy networks or assists delicate surgery. From January 2018, LIFE funds will help explore how remote-controlled motors for water valves can spot and contain distribution system leaks, in a project that could set new standards for water conservation.
26 September 2017Three LIFE-funded projects will take the stage this year at the European Clean Air Forum in Paris, France. The event brings together policy makers from across EU institutions, national governments and cities throughout Europe. Over two days, they will discuss with NGOs, academics, private companies and the general public how to reduce air pollution in the EU. As part of the event, the LIFE-funded projects Chimera, CLINSH and Małopolska Region will share their expertise in a session dedicated to business opportunities in the clean air sector.
22 September 2017An innovative LIFE project is working to protect the critically endangered northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita) from illegal hunting during its annual migration this autumn. Led by the NGO Waldrappteam, the species reintroduction project LIFE Northern Bald Ibis - Reason for Hope is focusing efforts on the prevention of illegal hunting, collection of evidence and (when necessary) prosecution of poachers.
21 September 2017The European Commission has received 629 proposals for environment and climate protection projects by the LIFE programme's deadlines in September 2017. Applicants come from all 28 EU Member States and request more than €1 billion in EU funding – four times the available budget (which is some €254 million).
19 September 2017Agriculture and forestry have great potential to help the EU meet its ambitious climate goals. Peter Wehrheim from the European Commission’s Climate Action directorate-general calls LIFE a “field laboratory” for developing and testing new methods and knowledge.
His colleague Simon Kay also emphasises the programme’s importance in this in-depth interview.
Integrating forestry and agriculture into EU climate policy is a challenge. A new Regulation, put forward in 2016 by the European Commission, however, is set to fully include the land use sector in EU Climate Action policy from 2021. The proposed legislation establishes common rules on how to incorporate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) into the EU's 2030 climate and energy framework.
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