Running out of time? Stepping up action for Europe’s environment

AUTHORS: Axel Volkery – Sirini Withana – David Baldock – Doreen Fedrigo-Fazio – Patrick ten Brink – Raphael Sauter – Peter Hjerp

The limits to a business-as-usual approach to economic recovery are increasingly recognised. There is now a real opportunity to set the EU on a path to a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy. However the appetite for action seems to be fading at a time when it is most needed. The slowing momentum behind the environmental agenda needs to be revived. Each year of incremental action means that future responses will be more costly and difficult to realise. There is an urgent need for much more decisive efforts if we are to avoid lock-in of high carbon, resource intensive development.

A new report by IEEP ‘Running out of time? Stepping up action for Europe’s environment’ calls for increased leadership and political courage to reinvent the EU’s economic development model at this critical point in time. The report was launched at a high-level conference in Brussels on 4 December which was opened by Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment.

The report argues that the current economic and financial context requires a different language and tactics. Environmental policy advocates have to improve their ability to argue the economic case and be better prepared to guide progress towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy. Part of this transformation has already started and there is a wealth of action worth building on. A strategic focus to 2030 needs to be combined with a more pragmatic approach to address critical issues and build capacity in the shorter term. The report sets out specific priorities with respect to decarbonisation, better use of natural resources and preserving the natural environment. It also discusses cross-cutting issues of implementation, financing and information.

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