Topic

A clean environment for our children

18.02.2014 - 14:15
glass globe in hand

Reducing the impact of climate change and protecting our natural heritage

A cleaner environment is essential for people’s health and well-being, and a major concern for all Europeans. The quality of the air has deteriorated and the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere has increased, which severely impacts the climate. As a consequence, an increase in natural disasters, such as flooding or extreme storms has been observed even in Europe, with devastating effects on people’s lives.

Reducing the risks and costs resulting from climate change requires changing the way we consume and produce in Europe. Transforming Europe into a competitive, less energy-consuming and less polluting society is a core long-term goal for the EPP Group, which it actively pursued throughout the 2009-2014 legislature.

The EPP Group is convinced that climate change presents us with an opportunity – not just with a threat. Investing in new, clean, breakthrough technologies will boost economic growth and increase Europe’s independence from energy imports. Clean and environmentally-friendly technologies are the future for Europe's economy and industry. This provides the chance to offer a better and healthier world to future generations, while creating new jobs and strengthening Europe’s competitiveness.

1. Climate action: boosting climate-friendly technologies and curbing emissions

The EU has already committed itself to reducing CO2 emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and data show it is well on track to reach this target. Between 2009 and 2014, further steps were taken to mitigate future emissions, as well as to adapt European economies to the requirements of climate change without losing competitiveness and jobs.

  • 2030 climate policy framework: Under EPP leadership, the milestones of the new post-2030 climate policy were set in early 2014. It defines clear and realistic objectives to give certainty to investors and industry, and takes due account of the capacity differences between Member States so as to share the effort in an equitable way.
  • Reduction of CO2 emissions from cars and vans: Road transport is one of the sectors where emissions have risen the most over the last years (by 26% since 1990). The new rules agreed in 2013, limiting greenhouse gas emissions from new passenger cars (to 95 grammes of CO2 per km) and for vans and light commercial vehicles (147 grammes of CO2 per km) respectively by 2020, constitute a major step in curbing road transport emissions.
  • Significant reduction and phasing down of emissions from non-CO2 GHG gases with high global warming potential (fluorinated gases or f-gases): New rules adopted in 2013 foresee an around 3/4 reduction in f-gases (used for instance for industrial refrigeration or aerosol propellants). By ensuring the replacement of f-gases with climate-friendly and cost-efficient alternatives, yearly emissions linked with their use will be reduced by 2/3 by 2030 at relatively low cost.
  • Boosting environmentally-friendly technologies: The new 2030 climate framework will support the progress towards a more competitive and less energy-intensive European economy by facilitating investment planning in energy-efficient, renewable and climate-friendly technologies. Thus, it will complement action aimed at:
  • Increasing energy efficiency and energy performance of buildings: The new common rules adopted in 2012 will help to save energy in households, for industrial equipment and buildings. Higher energy efficiency will be a key driver in the transition to a low-energy EU economy.
  • Developing renewable energy: To increase the share of renewables in the energy mix beyond 20% after 2020, the EPP Group is working on a new, more ambitious and cost-efficient framework on renewable energy and advocates a more integrated European subsidies scheme to encourage technological innovation, in particular for innovative renewable energy technologies.
  • Climate diplomacy: A clear EU position for a strong role in reaching a global deal. Europe is working hard to cut its GHG emissions - it is even offering to increase cuts to 30% in the future, if other major industrial economies agree to do their fair share in a global reduction effort. The 2030 climate policy puts Europe in a first-mover position and positively impacts international negotiations aimed at achieving a global agreement in Paris in 2015.

2. Improving our environment for healthy living: environment action programme until 2020

  • Respecting the limits of the planet: Adopted in October 2013 in a first reading agreement, the new programme for environment steps up the contribution of environment policy to the development of a resource-efficient, low carbon economy, and interlinks environmental action and industrial policy. Among the core aims are the deployment of new environmentally-friendly technologies, the limitation of landfilling to non-recyclable waste by 2020, water protection and biodiversity.

3. Using resources in an efficient and sustainable way

  • Creating greater value with less input: Adopted in May 2012, the roadmap for a resource-efficient Europe, which aims at boosting economic performance while using the earth’s limited natural resources in a sustainable way, is a crucial project for the EPP Group. Increasing resource efficiency is key to securing growth and jobs in Europe. This is a win-win approach. Improving the management of resource stocks will drive down costs and improve competitiveness, while at the same time creating jobs and preserving our planet. 

4. Upgraded rules on waste management

  • Stricter rules on waste from electrical and electronic equipment: Under EPP leadership, upgraded rules on the management of electrical waste, which is the fastest-growing waste stream in the EU, were adopted in January 2012. If this waste is not properly treated and disposed of (only 33% is), there can be serious environmental consequences, with Europe losing a significant amount of raw materials. Moreover, the new rules aim at stopping illegal shipment of waste to non-EU countries.

5. Towards a stronger European disaster response

Prevention of natural and man-made disasters: To prevent and better respond to more extreme disasters in Europe and beyond, the EPP Group has driven new initiatives: on the one hand, to strengthen Europe’s disaster response capacity by upgrading the civil protection mechanism, and on the other, to prevent natural and man-made disasters.

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