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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 >>
23 November 2017The 9th edition of the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) is sweeping across Europe. The past few days have seen over 13 000 events pull in crowds of volunteers to reduce waste, reuse products and recycle materials.
Launched as a LIFE project in 2009, the EWWR has been raising awareness about waste prevention for almost a decade. Its objective is to change public consumption patterns and waste habits, so as to bring about a thriftier, more sustainable society.
At present, the average European throws out half a tonne of waste each year. In addition to the cost of producing and disposing of these resources, their lifecycle from factories to landfills imposes unsustainable strains on the environment.
The theme of EWWR this year is “Reuse & Repair: Give it a new life!” – a topic that resonates fondly with a growing community of Fab Lab enthusiasts and patrons of repair cafés. By taking apart broken consumer products and giving them a new lease of life, these tinkerers are helping to stimulate a wiser, circular economy.
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.
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