"Extremely worrying": Europe misses climate targets for 2020

              Wednesday, 4 December 2019

              The EU has tried, but that is apparently not enough: A report by the European Environment Agency draws a sobering conclusion on the climate impact of the international community. The 2020 targets would not be achieved. Environmental organizations describe the situation as "grim" and "catastrophic".
              The EU is expected to miss its environmental and climate policy goals. This is clear from a report by the Copenhagen-based European Environment Agency (EEA). As a result, energy consumption has increased again recently, greenhouse gas emissions in the agricultural and transport sectors are not decreasing and the loss of biodiversity is continuing. It is still possible to reach the longer-term goals for 2030 and 2050. The EEA report stresses that efforts have been made. For example, total greenhouse gas emissions fell by around 22 percent between 1990 and 2017, and the share of renewables in energy consumption is significantly higher today. However, that is not enough. The authors of the report conclude that of the 13 Biodiversity Objectives set for 2020, only two can be reached next year. So there are new protected areas in the sea and on land. Nevertheless, the protection of species and natural habitats, wetlands, marine ecosystems and soils is still inadequate. Also, cooperation with economic sectors has "proved unsuccessful," the report said. For example, agriculture continues to have a negative impact on biodiversity and contribute to the pollution of air, water and soil. Likewise, pollution from chemical products and noise pollution remain a problem. Also, with regard to the EU's 2030 targets, the EEA is critical. The set targets would not be met if it were not vigorously tackled in the next ten years against the alarming level of species loss, the increasing impact of climate change and excessive consumption of natural resources. "The pace of progress has also slowed down in some key areas, such as greenhouse gas emissions, industrial emissions, waste generation, energy efficiency and the share of renewable energy," the EEA regrets. At the same time, Europe has the knowledge and the technologies to bring about decisive changes in the areas of food, mobility and energy. "Agriculture as number one cause" At the same time as the World Climate Change Conference in Madrid, the EEA demands that the EU act "urgently". In order not to miss their goals for 2030 and 2050, however, "fundamental changes" are needed. The EEA report draws a catastrophic picture, it said in a reaction of the Nature Conservation Union (Nabu). The state of nature in Europe is extremely worrying. "77 percent of key EU habitats are in poor condition, and 60 percent of EU-protected species are threatened." Dramatic declines are particularly evident in agricultural landscapes, such as birds and butterflies. "The report clearly names agriculture as the number one cause for the decline in species, habitats and ecosystems," said Nabu President Jörg-Andreas Krüger. "We need a system change in the EU agricultural policy, so that sustainable production is also worthwhile for the companies." The report reflects a failure of the EU's previous environmental protection policy, it was also said by the Environmental Foundation WWF. He testified that the EU is on track to miss most of its environmental targets for 2020. "And the prospects for the years 2030 and 2040 are even grimmer," said Diana Pretzell, Head of Biodiversity Policy at WWF Germany. The hopefuls for environmental protection is the upcoming European Green Deal of the new EU Commission. "A large part of the required legislation already exists, but the member states implement this very slowly," said Pretzell. In the fight for the environment and the climate, it is above all in the implementation of existing political measures, said EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx. "We should become better at meeting the political goals we set." Most solutions would already be on the table. Above all, it involves four major systems: the energy system that emits too much carbon dioxide, the transport sector, the ailing food systems in many places, and the way cities deal with factors such as housing, mobility and social dynamics. The situation of the environment has deteriorated since the publication of the previous report five years ago, the current outlook is uneven, it said in the report. Hopes from the Leyens KommissionDie new EU Commission of Ursula von der Leyen has the climate and Environmental protection declared a priority. Towards the middle of December, the first outlines for a comprehensive climate protection law will be presented. It is precisely this announcement that gives confidence to the EEA: "The European Green Deal recognizes the urgency of action to an extent that we have not seen before in Europe," said Bruyninckx. Environment, climate and justice would in future have to be part of every decision taken by the EU leader Olaf Bandt, chairman of the German Bund for the Environment and Nature Conservation (BUND), said in response to the report. With the Green Deal, the Leyen has the opportunity to put Europe on a green course and put an end to the destruction of habitats and social injustice. "Europe must not continue to rely on quantitative economic growth – what we urgently need is social justice and a prevention of the climate crisis."

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