Even though the EU has made some progress on its environmental goals, a new report has shown that it still has a lot of work to do, according to the European Environment Agency. The agency says that overall trends have not improved since the last report in 2015.
This latest report says Europe is now facing challenges of “unprecedented scale and urgency”, and despite there being progress in some areas, like air pollution and water pollution, this progress is “not nearly enough” for the EU to reach its long-term environmental targets.
The report says, “Europe’s environment is at a tipping point. Sudden and irreversible shifts of this sort could severely disrupt nature’s ability to deliver essential services such as supplying food and resources, maintaining clean water and fertile soils, and providing a buffer against natural disasters”
The EEA’s director, Hans Bruyninckx goes on to point out some of the dangers the world is facing, such as methane emissions from thawing permafrost, forest degradation, and melting ice. These create feedback loops which could lead to an acceleration in climate change.
This is known as “runaway global warming”, which is an extremely serious risk, but it’s not the only threat Europe could be facing. Other issues like biodiversity collapse and the depletion of natural resources are all connected with climate change, and these create more loops.
In a UN study, it was highlighted that over a million species are currently at risk of extinction. Fishing, agriculture, and deforestation are cited as some of the main causes of this. Therefore, lack of nature conservation “remains the biggest area of discouraging progress.”
In addition, air pollution is still a major concern. Recent trends have shown a lack of progress in reducing greenhouse gases, reducing waste, improving energy efficiency, and finding new, green energies. Also, rising energy consumption in the transport sector is partly to blame for this.
This has led to fresh calls for a new Green Deal, which would include proposals to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
Frans Timmermans, the EU Commission vice-president in charge of the European Green Deal, said in a statement: “In the next five years we will put in place a truly transformative agenda,” shifting to cleaner and more efficient mobility systems and more sustainable food and farming. There will be multiple benefits for Europe and for Europeans if we get this right, and our economy and our planet will be winners too.”
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