Despite progress in some areas, Europe must do more to create the 'green economy' needed for the continent to become sustainable, according to a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
Green economy is set to be one of the two main
themes at theUnited
Nations Sustainable Development Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June this
year. Simply put, a 'green economy' is one in which environmental, economic and
social policies and innovations enable society to use resources efficiently,
while maintaining the natural systems that sustain us.
"The focus on green economy in Rio reflects the
issue's importance as a key environmental priority, and is particularly
timely, given that it can provide a path to renewed economic growth and job
creation in response to the current severe economic crises facing Europe,"
EEA Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade said.
indicator report 2012' presents established indicators that illustrate
progress towards improving resource efficiency, and indicators that depict the
risk of passing environmental thresholds. Jointly, they enable policymakers and
the public to reflect on where Europe stands vis-à-vis some aspects of a green
Several of the indicators presented in this report
show encouraging trends, while others point to issues that require urgent
European environmental policies have helped Europe
use resources more efficiently. However, policies aimed at making ecosystems
more resilient have been less successful. Both are central to Europe achieving
a green economy and becoming sustainable, according to the report.
The report emphasises that improving resource
efficiency remains necessary, but stresses that this in itself may not be
sufficient to ensure a resilient, sustainable natural environment. In some
cases, reduced ecosystem resilience may even be irreversible, for example
biodiversity loss leading to species extinction, or when environmental or
climate tipping points are passed.
Following these findings, the report also
considers the merits of designing policy objectives and targets that more
explicitly address the links between resource efficiency, ecosystem resilience
and human well-being to support the transition to a green economy.
The report uses well-established environmental
indicators, assessing progress towards a green economy along six environmental
economy across Europe
The report was presented to members of parliament (MPs) from
more than 20 EU Member States during a visit to the EEA on Monday 14 May 2012.
Slovak MP Mikuláš Huba, Chairman of the Agriculture
and Environment Committee said: "Green economy is mentioned in the
government's programme in Slovakia. This is a positive first step, but we are
yet to see what might develop in terms of action." He added: "I
believe it is very important to carefully consider the outcomes of economic
decisions, so growth and job creation (even if called 'green') do not result
José Llorens Torres MP, who is President of the
Spanish government's Commission on Agriculture, Food and Environment, explained
the need for a green economy in his country: "Spain has to both comply
with EU objectives to reduce carbon emissions, and we have to reduce the
deficit in line with the demands of the EU."
UK MP Joan Walley, Chair of the UK government's
Environmental Audit Committee said: "Everyone understands what is meant by
business as usual but few have signed up for the step change now urgently
needed if we are to withstand the pressures on the earth's natural resources.
The EEA's measured and robust research is the necessary point of departure if
we are to safeguard our future. Their work needs to be understood, applied and
used by all government departments including the Treasury."
17 May, 2012.