Sunday, July 21, 2024

EU 2030 climate and environmental targets within reach

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The 8th Environment Action Programme (EAP) mid-term review underlines the importance of achieving climate and environmental objectives also for their positive economic and social impacts, for example, in terms of improving wellbeing, health, resilience, or security of supply. Many planned actions, such as legislative changes have been delivered, but it is too early to assess their impact on the environment as they are yet to be implemented on the ground.

Key findings

  • Progress on climate change mitigation and adaptation includes the adoption of key legislation to achieve climate neutrality, in particular the EU Climate Law, the Fit for 55 package of legislation and the 2021 Climate Adaptation Strategy. The EU’s domestic net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are falling steadily, down by 32.5% in 2022, compared to 1990 levels. However, faster progress is needed to meet the EU’s 2030 target of cutting GHG emissions by at least 55% and to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The effects of climate change on natural ecosystems, socio-economic sectors and people’s health and wellbeing are increasingly being felt, in particular due to more frequent and intensive climate-related extreme events. Yesterday, the Commission adopted a Communication on managing climate risks in Europe to protect people and prosperity, responding to evidence provided in the first ever European Climate Risk Assessment (EUCRA), a scientific report published by the European Environment Agency.
  • All actions under the second circular economy action plan have been carried out, including the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation, which will be implemented for a wide range of products. Despite some progress, mostly on waste management, the EU still has significant potential to shift from a linear to a more circular economy, as secondary materials account for only 11.5% of all materials used. The EU’s material footprint reached 14.8 tonnes per capita in 2022, an increase of 6% in the last decade. Keeping up the efforts at all levels would be key to reverse such unsustainable trends.
  • Most initiatives announced in the zero-pollution action plan have been delivered, in particular the revision of the EU legislation on air, water and industrial emissions and the new proposal for a Soil Monitoring Law. Some EU groundwaters remain polluted, with 14.1% of groundwater stations in the EU polluted by nitrates over the period 2016-2019. Around two-thirds of agricultural soils in the EU are not in good health. The EU is on track to reach its 2030 target to reduce premature deaths due to fine particulate matters by 55%, but not the 2030 target to reduce transport noise exposure by 30%. It will be very challenging to meet the target to reduce nutrient losses into groundwater by at least 50%.
  • Most of the actions set out in the biodiversity strategy are completed and there has been an increase in designated protected land and marine areas. The need for action is clear as populations of common birds declined by 12% between 1990 and 2021 in the EU, and farmland bird populations declined by 36%. Pollinators, which provide essential ecosystem services for the EU food system, are in sharp decline.
  • Water scarcity affects almost one-third of the EU population every year. This has a direct impact on the well-being of current and future generations, and it is likely to further increase due to climate change and the increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.
  • Land take continues to be a major pressure on biodiversity and ecosystems and threatens the EU’s capacity for climate mitigation.
  • Vulnerable and lower socio-economic groups are already disproportionally affected by climate change, environmental hazards and health related risks.

 

Background

Building on the European Green Deal, the 8th EAP is a decision by the European Parliament and the Council which sets a framework for action on environment and climate policy. Until 2030, it is structured through six thematic priority objectives for 2030 and it has a long-term 2050 priority objective of ‘Living well, within planetary boundaries’. It also identifies the enabling conditions to achieve, in a coherent and coordinated way, these objectives for all actors involved. The mid-term review is announced in the Action Programme and the Commission will conduct another in-depth assessment during the lifespan of the programme with a final evaluation in 2029.

 

For More Information

Mid-term review of the 8th Environment Action Programme + staff working document

Website for the 8th Environment Action Programme

Video: Boosting business through the European Green Deal – European Commission (europa.eu)

8th Environment Action Programme Decision

EEA progress report towards the 8th Environment Action Programme

 

Quotes

Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said:

It is heartening to learn that the EU’s ambitious climate and environment targets really are possible if we work hard enough. The full implementation of the Green Deal will require determination and political will but is essential to ensure wellbeing for current and future generations. If we start now, Europeans will reap the benefits of the green transition and futureproof European economy by ensuring that we live within our planetary boundaries.

Commissioner for Climate Action, Wopke Hoekstra, said:

This report recognises that the European Green Deal has put the EU on track to achieve its climate and environmental goals. The future is in our hands and the targets are within reach. Now, our focus must be on staying the course, implementing the legislation in full, making it a fair green transition for all, boosting competitiveness and reaching climate neutrality by 2050.

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