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   Issue 18, July 2008       

 

EU Environment Policy Brief

 
 

Keeping you informed about developments in EU environment policy

 
       
 
 

IN THIS ISSUE

   
 

Climate Change

  • G8 'shared vision' to halve global emissions by 2050
  • European Parliament votes to include aviation in EU ETS
  • Further progress made in meeting Kyoto Protocol target 
  • Awareness campaign aims to create virtual community of young 'changers'
  • Commission launches public consultation on revision of car labelling directive
  • Emissions trading: verified emissions from EU ETS businesses for 2007
  • Have your say on deforestation and its impact on climate change and biodiversity loss

Biodiversity

  • Landmark decisions made at biodiversity conference

Animal Welfare

  • Commission proposes trade ban on products from seals to improve animal welfare

Sustainable Consumption and Production

  • EU promotes sustainable products and technologies; package of actions for sustainable consumption, production and industry

Chemicals

  • ECHA: European Chemicals Agency inaugurated

Air Pollution

  • Commission requests information from Member States on PM10 pollution

Green Week

  • 3,000 attend Green Week Conference: "Only One Earth - Don't Waste It!"
  • European Business Awards for the Environment 2008

Waste

  • European Parliament approves revision of Waste Directive

Water

  • Bathing water quality in the EU remains high
  • European Parliament approves proposed directive on water quality standards

Civil Protection

  • EU and UN assess environmental threat of capsized ferry in Philippines

International Cooperation

  • Environment at the heart of the Union for the Mediterranean
  • EU and Brazil meet to discuss strategic partnership

Nanotechnology

  • Commission starts public dialogue on nanotechnologies

Campaigns

  • Commission launches European Green Capital Award

General Policy

  • Environment Policy Review shows achievements, and challenges ahead
 
 
 
Further sources of information
Printable version
 
     
 

Climate Change

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  G8 'shared vision' to halve global emissions by 2050

G8 leaders meeting in Toyako, Hokkaido, Japan, on 7-9 July, agreed on a shared vision between the eight member countries and the European Commission to at least halve global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This represents an important step forward on the road towards reaching agreement on a global climate change framework for the post-2012 period by the end of 2009. The statement also reconfirms the leadership role the G8 countries need to assume in the battle against climate change and the need for them to implement ambitious economy-wide mid-term goals in order to achieve absolute emissions reductions.

Leaders of the 16 countries responsible for the lion's share of global greenhouse gas emissions gathered during the summit for the Major Economies Meeting, where they adopted a statement on Energy Security and Climate Change. In it they recognised that "deep cuts in global emissions will be necessary" to achieve the ultimate objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and that "adaptation will play a correspondingly vital role". The Major Economies Meeting includes the G8 member countries plus Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Mexico and South Africa, plus the EU Presidency, the European Commission and the UNFCCC.

G8 Summit Leaders' Declaration

Major Economies Meeting Statement

European Parliament votes to include aviation in EU ETS

The European Parliament voted in second reading on 8 July in favour of including aviation in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). Under the new directive greenhouse gas emissions from flights to, from and within the EU will be included in the EU ETS from 2012. All airlines will be covered whatever their nationality. The directive is part of a comprehensive approach to addressing aviation emissions. A proposal to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from aircraft is included in the Commission's work programme for this year. The Council is expected to give formal approval to the directive at one of its next meetings.

Press release

Further progress made in meeting Kyoto Protocol target

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas has welcomed the progress made by many Member States in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions in 2006. The emissions inventory compiled by the European Environment Agency for 2006, the latest year for which complete data is available, shows that EU-15 emissions dropped by 0.8% from 2005, taking emissions to 2.7% below their levels in the base year (1990 in most cases). This puts the EU-15 well on track to meeting its Kyoto Protocol target of keeping average emissions between 2008 and 2012 at least 8% below base year levels.

Press release

Awareness campaign aims to create virtual community of young 'changers'

The campaign launched by the European Commission in May 2006 to raise public awareness about climate change moved into its final stage on 5 June, focusing on five Member States - Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and Bulgaria. Launched on World Environment Day, the third phase of the "You control climate change" campaign aims to initiate pro-active dialogue on climate change in these five countries, where national campaigns have not yet been implemented. This stage of the campaign is centred around television advertising and a competition for young people ('Be a Changer!') that seeks to create a virtual community of 'changers', committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by adapting their daily habits.

Press release

Climate change campaign website

Commission launches public consultation on revision of car labelling directive

On 2 June the European Commission launched a public consultation on information provided to consumers about the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of new cars. Stakeholders and the general public have the opportunity to submit their views on how such information can be made clearer and more consistent. Studies have shown that the CO2 labelling directive in force is not working as well as it could and needs to be amended. The results of this consultation will be used to help shape a Commission proposal to revise the directive. The consultation runs until 28 July 2008. Interested stakeholders can participate by filling in the online questionnaire.

Press release

Consultation document

Emissions trading: verified emissions from EU ETS businesses for 2007

Overall emissions of CO2 from businesses in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) increased by 0.68% in 2007 when adjusted for changes in the number of installations covered, according to the information provided by Member State registries. While well below the 2.8% growth in the EU's Gross Domestic Product recorded last year, the slight increase in emissions underlines the need for the tighter emission caps that have been set for the 2008-2012 trading period. The second trading period began on 1 January 2008 and coincides with the period during which the EU Member States and other developed countries must meet their Kyoto Protocol targets for limiting or reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Press release

Have your say on deforestation and its impact on climate change and biodiversity loss

The European Commission has launched a consultation exercise to gather views on a number of critical issues and policy options related to deforestation in developing countries, within the context of the post-Kyoto negotiation process. Conservation of forests is high on the international environmental agenda because deforestation and forest degradation contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions (20% of global CO2 emissions). This makes them the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries, and worldwide the second most important contributor to climate change after the combustion of fossil fuels. Comments from all interested parties, including individual citizens, industry and consumer representatives, interest groups, the NGO community and other organisations are sought. The results will inform the development of EU policy on deforestation. A Commission Communication is expected by the end of 2008. The consultation exercise closes on 22 August 2008.

Consultation document

 
 

Biodiversity

 

 
 

seal

Landmark decisions made at biodiversity conference

On 30 May 2008, 191 countries agreed to take far reaching action to address the current unprecedented loss of biodiversity across the globe. At the 9th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, meeting in Bonn, Germany, consensus was reached on decisions that will pave the way to ensuring that biofuels production is sustainable and to finalising an international regime on access and benefit-sharing of genetic resources. These decisions will also lead to increased biodiversity protection in the high seas and to ensuring that concerns relating to biodiversity and forests are taken up in the ongoing climate change negotiations. As a result of the agreement, governments will take concrete actions towards reaching the global target of significantly reducing the current rate of biodiversity loss by 2010.

Press release

 
  Animal Welfare  

 
 
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Commission proposes trade ban on products from seals to improve animal welfare

On 23 July the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation banning the trading of seal products within, into, and from the European Union. The aim of the proposed regulation is to ensure that products derived from seals killed and skinned in ways that cause pain, distress and suffering are not found on the European market. Trade in seal products would only be allowed where guarantees can be provided that hunting techniques consistent with high animal-welfare standards were used and that the animals did not suffer unnecessarily.

Press release

 
 

Sustainable Consumption and Production

 

 
 

cbd

EU promotes sustainable products and technologies; package of actions for sustainable consumption, production and industry

Improving the environmental performance and in particular the energy efficiency of products and stimulating their market uptake are the core objectives of the package for sustainable consumption, production and industry put forward by the European Commission on 16 July. It sets out a series of voluntary and obligatory actions to support a coherent and dynamic policy in the EU and internationally, helping to define eco-friendly products, informing the consumer through improved labelling and supporting their purchase through public procurement and fiscal incentives.

Press release

Memo  

Further information (Commission DG Environment)

Further information (Commission DG Enterprise and Industry)

 
 

Chemicals

 

 
 

cbd

ECHA: European Chemicals Agency inaugurated

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) was officially opened on 3 June by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Vice-President Günter Verheugen together with Gérard Onesta, Vice-President of the European Parliament, and Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen. Located in Helsinki, ECHA is responsible for managing the implementation of the REACH requirements in relation to the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction processes of chemical substances. ECHA formally began its activities a year ago and its work has been devoted to intensive preparations, including staff recruitment and establishing support structures and procedures. On 1 June 2008 two key processes of REACH entered into operation: registration of chemicals and pre-registration of the some 30,000 chemicals currently in use (e.g. acids, metals, solvents, surfactants). Manufacturers or importers of chemicals have to pre-register them by 1 December 2008 if they want to continue manufacturing or importing them without interruption. It has been estimated that over 180,000 pre-registration files will be submitted.

Press release

European Chemicals Agency

 
  Air Pollution  

 
 
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Commission requests information from Member States on PM10 pollution

The European Commission has written to 23 Member States to request information about actions they are taking to comply with the EU's air quality standard for dangerous airborne particles known as PM10. These coarse particles, emitted by industry and traffic, can cause asthma, cardiovascular problems, lung cancer and premature death. The Commission's action follows the entry into force on 11 June of the major new EU air quality directive, which allows Member States to request limited extra time to meet the PM10 standard under certain conditions.

Press release

 
  Green Week  

 
 

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3,000 attend Green Week Conference: "Only One Earth - Don't Waste It!"

This year's Green Week, the biggest annual conference devoted to European environment policy, took place in Brussels from 3-6 June. Under the slogan "Only One Earth - Don't Waste It!" the 8th edition of Green Week focused on the need for Europe and the rest of the world to make its use of resources more sustainable. Under the over-arching theme of sustainable use of resources, Green Week 2008 was structured around four sub-themes: resources and waste management; sustainable consumption and production; nature and biodiversity; and climate change. There were 38 conference sessions and an extensive side-events programme, attended by more than 3,000 people.

Green Week website

European Business Awards for the Environment 2008

Four companies were named as winners of the 2008 European Business Awards for the Environment by Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas at an awards ceremony during Green Week. The awards recognise "the Best of the Best" - businesses that have won awards at national level. Given in four categories, the European Business Awards for the Environment recognise businesses that make a particular contribution to sustainable development by combining innovation, economic viability and environmental concern. Out of 125 companies that applied for the awards, the jury had selected 11 finalists.

The winners were:

Management Award

The Co-operative Group Ltd (UK)

The Co-operative Group won the prize for its approach to sustainable development. Its Social Goals Strategy identifies the environment as a primary issue. The group identifies and measures key environmental, social and ethical impacts annually.

http://www.co-operative.coop/

Product Award

ertex-solar GmbH (Austria)

The company produces high quality photovoltaic products for producing electricity from the sun. The photovoltaic cells use a special safety glass technology whose advantages include widespread application in buildings without the need for special design features.

www.ertex-solar.at

Process Award

Choren GmbH (Germany)

The company was selected for developing a process that produces high-purity biofuel from biomass. The second-generation biofuel, which does not use plants intended for food, is low in pollutants, almost CO2 neutral and compatible with current and future diesel engine technology.

www.choren.com

International Cooperation Award

KIT (Royal Tropical Institute) Holding/Mali BioCarburant SA (Netherlands)

The winning project involves the production in Mali of sustainable biodiesel from jatropha nuts, a drought-resistant non-food crop that can be grown on non-agricultural land. The fuel, produced and sold by a joint venture company set up by KIT, supplements farmers' incomes thus reducing poverty.

www.kit.nl

Press release

European Business Awards for the Environment website

 
  Waste  

 
 
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European Parliament approves revision of Waste Directive

The European Parliament approved the revision of the Waste Framework Directive, the central pillar of EU waste management policy in a second reading vote on 17 June. Among its provisions, the revised directive sets new recycling targets to be achieved by the Member States by 2020, including recycling rates of 50% for household and similar wastes and 70% for construction and demolition waste. The new directive will streamline EU waste legislation by replacing three existing directives: the existing Waste Framework Directive, the Hazardous Waste Directive and the Waste Oils Directive.

Press release

 
  Water  

 
 
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Bathing water quality in the EU remains high

The annual bathing water report presented by the European Commission on 2 June reveals that the large majority of bathing sites across the European Union met EU hygiene standards in 2007. Some 95% of coastal bathing areas and 89% of bathing sites in rivers and lakes comply with the mandatory standards. In 2007, Member States removed a total of 143 bathing sites from their national lists of sites subject to the directive's standards. This 44% decrease in sites being de-listed is encouraging, but the Commission insists that Member States must continue to tackle pollution problems at source rather than resort to de-listing sites that do not comply with EU quality standards.

Press release

European Parliament approves proposed directive on water quality standards

In a second reading vote on 17 June, the European Parliament approved the proposed directive on environmental quality standards for water. The directive will improve the protection of rivers, lakes and coastal waters against pollution from a range of chemical substances. It is the final major piece of legislation needed to support the Water Framework Directive (WFD), the cornerstone of EU water protection policy. The WFD requires all EU waters to achieve 'good status' by 2015. The legislative framework under the WFD that will be completed with this directive will provide a sound, predictable and long-term basis for decisions at all levels, from the local to the European.

Press release

 
  Civil Protection  

 
 
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EU and UN assess environmental threat of capsized ferry in Philippines

A joint European Union-United Nations expert team was deployed on 10 July to the Philippines at the request of national authorities to assess the situation of a capsized ferry containing large quantities of highly toxic chemicals. The Princess of the Stars ferry capsized on 21 June about three kilometres from the shore of Sibuyan Island in the central Philippines. Only 56 of the 849 passengers survived, while the rest remain unaccounted for, believed to have been trapped inside. Efforts to recover the bodies were suspended following the discovery of a cargo of large quantities of highly toxic pesticides, in addition to an estimated 100,000 litres of fuel.

Press release

 
  International Cooperation  

 
 

 

 

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Environment at the heart of the Union for the Mediterranean

Leaders from all sides of the Mediterranean gathered in Paris on 13 July to launch the "Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean". Building on the existing Euro-Mediterranean Process, this re-launch placed environment at its heart with three of the six flagship projects being linked to environmental issues (reducing Mediterranean pollution, civil protection and solar energy). The Summit provided additional support to the Horizon 2020 initiative that aims to tackle the top sources of pollution in the region with a collective effort from all actors and stakeholders in the region. The French Development Agency announced it would support Horizon 2020 with €730 million of assistance whilst Italy and France announced the launch of the €600 million InfraMed fund to support investments in Energy, Transport and Environment. 

Joint Declaration of the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean

French Development Agency article (FR)

InfraMed initiative press release

EU and Brazil meet to discuss strategic partnership

The EU Troika and Brazil held their first ever ministerial meeting on 6 June 2008, in Brdo pri Kranju, Slovenia. The talks were another milestone in shaping EU-Brazil relations and implementing the Strategic Partnership launched in July 2007. The meeting took stock of the preparations for the next EU-Brazil Summit, where a Joint Action Plan will be the key deliverable. Discussions focused on climate change, effective multilateralism, the fight against global poverty, energy, migration and the global food crisis. The European Commission was represented by Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy. The EU-Brazil strategic partnership was established at the first EU Brazil Summit in July 2007. The strategic partnership constitutes a political commitment of the EU and Brazil to actively engage on global political, regional, economic and social developments.

Press release

 
  Nanotechnology  

 
 
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Commission starts public dialogue on nanotechnologies

The Commission is to start a public consultation on nanotechnology. Nanotechnologies can be used to improve the performance of a wide range of products and processes and have enormous potential benefits for manufacturers, consumers, employees, patients and the environment. While current EU legislation covers in principle the challenges for health, safety and environment with regards to nanomaterials, there is further need for research and international cooperation. As more and more products involving nanomaterials are reaching the market, the European Commission is starting a consultation with stakeholders and Member States in order to increase knowledge and awareness about the potential of nanotechnologies and to continue to ensure an adequate protection of nature, environment and health.

Press release

Further information

 
  Campaigns  

 
 
 

Commission launches European Green Capital Award

The European Commission has launched an annual European Green Capital Award, to be given each year to a city that is leading the way with environmentally friendly urban living. Any European city with a population of more than 200,000 can apply, and a jury will select the winning cities for 2010 and 2011 later on this year. The award is intended to help European cities become more attractive and healthy places - "fit for life". European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas signed a declaration establishing the award scheme together with Paddy Bourke, the Lord Mayor of Dublin and President of the Union of Capital Cities of the European Union at the launch in Brussels on 22 May.

Press release

European Green Capital website

 
  General Policy  

 
     

Environment Policy Review shows achievements, and challenges ahead

On 2 July the European Commission adopted its 2007 Environment Policy Review, which reports on EU policy developments from last year, focuses on the key challenges ahead and looks in detail at environmental trends and policy performance in the EU and Member States. The main commitments under the 6th Environment Action Programme have been delivered. But while the environment policy framework is in place, further efforts are needed to improve implementation of EU environment legislation by Member States. The review highlighted three major challenges that require urgent attention: sustainability, climate change adaptation and protection of biodiversity.

Press release

Environment Policy Review documents

 
 

Further sources of information

 

 
   

Bookshop

The following new DG ENV publications are now available from the EU Bookshop:

1. The Convention on Biological Diversity - Implementation in the European Union (2008 edition)
2. The European Union's Biodiversity Action plan - Halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010 and beyond
3. The Environment and the European Commission - an introduction to the Environment DG of the European Commission and to sources of information on EU environment policy
4. EU Action against Climate Change - Leading global action to 2020 and beyond (2008 edition)
5. Children's book: A Present for Timmy (dealing with the subject of sustainable production and consumption)

Visit the EU Bookshop at www.bookshop.europa.eu  where you can order free single copies. Multiple copies can be ordered via the form which can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/environment/env-informa/

 
     
This issue of Environment Policy Brief is produced by DG ENV A.1 (Communication & Governance) and E.1 (International Relations, Governance & Development)

Responsible editor: Nicholas Hanley

Editor: Jenny Avery