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Latest update from EEA shows serious challenges to Green Deal objectives

AUTHOR: Eero Yrjö-Koskinen

The European Environmental Agency’s (EEA) latest update on the 8th Environment Action Programme shows that the European Green Deal is being challenged from all sides. Key indicators, such as energy consumption, consumption footprint, and GHG emissions from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF), are in the red, whereby the objectives set for 2030 will not be met.

In addition, the majority of other indicators, including climate-related economic losses, the impact of drought on ecosystems, raw material consumption, nitrates in groundwater, total waste generation, environmental inequalities, and fossil fuel subsidies, are in the yellow, which mean that meeting these targets is either unlikely or uncertain.

The only positive signals come from reductions of overall greenhouse gas emissions, as well as reductions in premature deaths caused by exposure to fine particulate matter. In addition, there has been increases in environmental protection expenditure and the share of environmental taxes in total tax revenue.

As mentioned in EEA’s report, the 2030 target on carbon removals in the LULUCF sector will be difficult to achieve because the Member States’ current and planned policies fall clearly short of their targets, while the past 10-year trend is going in the wrong direction and will have to be reversed.

Regarding climate change adaptation, the EEA calls for the introduction of comprehensive and integrated approaches to enhance adaptive capacity and to increase societal resilience against climate change. Otherwise, the EU will not be able to deal with the impacts of extreme weather- and climate-related events, such as floods, droughts, and heatwaves, as projected in IPCC’s (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) latest assessment on this topic.

Similarly, the current EU legislation aiming at decoupling raw material consumption and waste generation from economic growth has been only partially successful, whereby it is unlikely that the targets set to decrease the material footprint and total amount of generated waste will be met by 2030.

As to preserving and restoring Europe’s biodiversity, it is unlikely that any of the four biodiversity- and ecosystem-related targets will be reached by 2030 due to the high pressure on land and sea caused by agriculture, fisheries, and urbanisation. To reach these targets, the EEA calls on the Member States to introduce new measures to mainstream biodiversity into other policies, such as the common agriculture and fisheries policies.

IEEP expresses its concern on the overall state-of-play of the European Green Deal. Based on EEA’s latest report, IEEP shares its call for decisive and urgent action to protect Europe’s environment, and to better mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, while taking into consideration the need for just transition which leaves no one behind.

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