Environmental Sustainable Development
Sustainability is about integration or how to develop in a way that benefits a wide range of industries, sectors, countries and generations. It is about making decisions that take into consideration potential impact on society, the environment and the economy.
Sustainable development is set-out in the Treaty as the long-term goal of the EU. The Commission has produced a Sustainable Development Strategy which is revised every two years and its objectives have been deemed in a broader range of policy developments.
The environmental sustainability focuses on the following policy areas:
1) Climate change and Clean energy – the EU committed itself to reducing its overall emissions by 20% until 2020. It also set the target of increasing the use of renewables in energy production by 20% until 2020. The Energy Efficiency Package reinforces the key energy efficiency legislation on buildings and energy-using products. The European Regional Development Fund supports sustainable energy in the housing sector, providing a further boost to investment.
Also the White Paper on Adapting to Climate Change sets a framework to reduce the EU’s vulnerability to the impact of climate change, focusing on integrating adaptation into EU key policy areas and measures, building a knowledge base and stepping up international cooperation.
2) Sustainable transport – key EU policy developments include the Green Transport Package, which addresses the greening of transport, internalisation of external costs and the abatement of noise from railways. As part of the Climate and Energy Package, the EU is committed to sourcing 10% of its transport fuel consumption from renewable energy sources by 2020. This target is accompanied by binding sustainability criteria for biofuels included in the Renewable Energy Directive and the Fuel Quality Directive.
Furthermore, an Action Plan for the deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems has been launched and followed-up by new actions. Aviation will be included in the EU Emission Trading Scheme from 2012 onwards. In maritime transport, action includes adoption of the Maritime Safety Package and the Maritime Transport Strategy until 2018.
3) Conservation and Management of natural resources – the focus is on preserving the biodiversity and areas of natural land. The annual loss of ecosystem services is estimated equivalent to €50 billion, while by 2050 the cumulated welfare losses were estimated equivalent to 7% of GDP.
Key action on water management includes continued implementation of the Water Framework Directive and the Community Policy on water scarcity. The objective of the directive is to achieve good environmental status of all waters by 2015. The Integrated Maritime Policy was launched in 2007 and set out a common framework for all maritime issues, and introduced cross-cutting tools to ensure that use of marine environment (oceans, seas and coastlines) is sustainable. Sea basin strategies for the Arctic Ocean, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean will address the specific challenges of these bodies of water.
An eco-efficient economy will contribute to achieving the main objectives and the overall aim of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy. It represents new business opportunities and with the proper measures will boost the EU competitiveness. This will stimulate important employment growth, and will therefore be an essential element of the EU 2020 strategy.
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