Agriculture, GMO & Animal Welfare
With the dramatic population growth predicted by the year 2050 and the ever pressing concern of climate change, it is expected that citizens of the EU will face significant hardships in regards to food production and rural development in the coming years. In an effort to address and prevent these issues, recent reforms to agriculture policy in 2013 favor greener farming practices, greater research, and a stronger support system for farmers (EU Agriculture). In tandem, questions and concerns reguarding the welfare of distressed species, like honey bees and their effects the quality of food being produced and consumed, are being addressed in current TTIP negotiations and lengthy discourses surrounding GMOs.
Chemistry & Nanotechnology
While the European governing network is large it has recently been focusing much of its concern on issues at the molecular level. With 17% of the world’s chemicals produced within the EU, an industry that employs more than 1.2 million people, European chemical legislation is focusing more on how chemicals and nanoscience technologies are affecting human health and the environment. Through the 2007 REACH Action Plan, implemented under ECHA, provisions to register, evaluate, authorize, and restrict chemicals according to various safety measures will be phased-in over the course of 11 years.
Circular Economy Package
As an effort to further unite the member states of the European Union regarding environmental concerns, the European Commission has announced the Circular Economy Package. The corresponding action plan will promote an economical approach to use resources in a more efficient, sustainable, and circular way. The proposals, which incentivize the recycling and reuse of materials, include measures to make the whole lifecycle of a product sustainable: including production, consumption, and waste management. This package provides many benefits to the people of the European Union such as the creation of new jobs, increased market competition, industrial innovation, and a regulatory commitment to environmental protection.
Climate & Energy
Europe has set ambitious climate and energy goals in the 2020 energy strategy, the 2030 energy strategy, and the 2050 Energy Roadmap. The 2020 energy strategy aims to achieve a greenhouse gas reduction of at least 20% from 1990 and increase energy efficiency by 20%, with 20% of the energy coming from renewable energy sources. For long term achievement the EU energy roadmap requires a 80-95% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
To move forward in these goals, the European Union and all Member States are contracted with the UNFCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) adopted in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Annual meetings are held to promote and review the implementation of climate change legislation. The EU has also taken part in the Paris Climate Treaty: signed on April 22, 2016. The treaty was agreed upon at the 21st Conference of the Parties after 20 years of UN negotiation. The Paris Climate Agreement has taken a historic leap in getting nations to unite around a legally binding climate change agreement.
Although the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement is to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius, implementation it is largely left up to individual members. To achieve this goal, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) calls upon the European Union to continue to pass progressive environmental policy within the new Circular Economy Package with the ultimate goal of ending our dependency on fossil fuels.
Environmental Law & Consumer Protection
Along with the protection of natural rescources and the minimization of an environmental footprint, consumers and their rights have been an integral part of EU Law since it’s formation in the 1970s. The most recent update to these laws, The Charta of Fundamental Rights (2000), guarantees fair treatment, quality products and a right of redress to each consumer. There are also protection measures enacted to regulate specific industries. For example, careful attention is placed on food and product safety as well as data protection. These measures help to safeguard the health and economic interests of consumers.
Nature & Biodiversity
Disturbances to the earth’s biomes affect all life on Earth. Therefore, approaches to protect the natural environment and living species are not just desired but vital to human existence. In moving towards the goal of of stopping biodiversity loss by 2020, much has already been done. The Habitat’s Directive of 1992 established the EU-wide Natura 2000 network as the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world: protecting 1000 plant and animal species in addition to more than 200 habitats. Furthermore, the Birds Directive of 2009 aims to protect 500 wild bird species within the European Union through the regulation of their habitats, hunting seasons, etc.
Sustainability & Economy (Green Jobs)
There are more than 20 million jobs linked to the environmental sector within the European Union and this number is expected to grow in the comming decade. With the EU‘s continual focus on the preservation of biodiversity and a competitive, low-carbon, resource-efficient economy, the community of green jobs is taking off. Already in Austrian almost every fifth person holds one of these jobs (Green Jobs). With the help of the New Skills for New Jobs initiative, EU citizens will be educated for and pushed towards green jobs. Green jobs aim to avoid environmental damage and to preserve natural resources and energies.
Traffic & Air & Industry
In 2010, more than 400,000 people have died prematurely from causes related to air pollution in the EU. Because good air quality is an essential component to health and well-being, efforts to minimize adverse impacts on the earth’s atmosphere are currently being undertaken. Particular attention is being placed on the reduction of emissions produced by automobiles, other types of motor vehicles (boats, tractors, trucks, etc.), and the auto manufacturing industry. Regulation (EC) No. 443/2009 outlines a new set of standards for passenger cars which promotes fuel-efficiency and the transparency of information available to the consumer. Likewise, Directive 2010/75/EU works to prevent industries from shifting pollution from one medium (air, water, land) to another.
Reduction in CO2 emissions of new passenger cars