Happens now in Brussels: Green Week sets the EU and global climate policy agenda

green week Janez Potočnik

Participation of Janez Potočnik, Member of the EC in charge of the Environment, at the opening session of Green Week 2014 (EC Audiovisual Services)

Brussels is all green this week. The eyes of Europe are focusing these days on the Egg Centre, where the 2014 edition of the Green Week is taking place. The conference centre in Rue Bara is hosting the biggest annual event on European environmental policy, whose theme this year is “Circular Economy, Resource Efficiency and Waste”. How can we turn waste into resources and jobs? How can we break our reliance on new materials? How can we re-use, re-manufacture and recycle? How can we change the way we produce and consume? These are the main issues that are being addressed at this year’s Green Week.

A circular economy is the logical solution for a resource-constrained world, where the re-use and the re-manufacturing of products is a standard practice. The aim of the conference is to generate ideas on how to use more efficiently the resources the EU has and, most importantly, to help the Commission set out new proposals enabling Europe to unlock the potential of the circular economy in 2014.

Green Week comes at a moment where the debate on environmental issues and the role the EU is playing, or it is supposed to play, in order to reach the goals of CO2 reduction, is truly intense. It’s now clear 2014 will be a decisive year for the future policies on these matters.

On 14 May, when the media were focused on another major event in Brussels, the European Business Summit, good news was released. IN a meeting of the EU environment ministers we were notified that the European Union will cut its carbon emissions in 2020 by a bigger margin than it has pledged it would under the United Nation climate change treaties. “Europe will be overachieving in 2020”, Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency said after presenting the latest findings of his organisation to ministers and European Commission officials in Athens. The EU has unilaterally pledged under the UN Kyoto Protocol for Climate Change to reduce its emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020. Many analysts and officers recently revealed that the bloc has already almost met that target and so expects to beat it by the year 2020. “For the year 2020, total emissions are projected to be 24.5% below base year levels,” it was said in a document submitted to the UN on 30 April.

Environmental campaigners welcomed the lower EU emissions but said this was no substitute for setting deeper targets. Many scientists also urged the EU to continue its leadership in tackling climate changes and stimulating the rest major economies to also do so. The EU has long been the driver of the world’s ambition on tackling climate change. Although not always continuous, the Union’s commitment and overall record has been a model to others worldwide. It is well known that its leadership has created the space for other countries, such as the world’s most developed countries. And we believe this is something to be proud of. That’s also most likely what everybody expects from Europe. But is the EU still a real green leader? This might be the right week to answer this question.

Europe now has the chance to demonstrate that this leadership has not been worn out by time and most of all by the economic crisis. 2014, a crucial year for green policies brings a big challenge, called the “2030 Policy Framework for Climate and Energy” proposal. The European Commission explains that the framework, which was presented last January and agreed in March, in a crucial week for the EU’s environmental policies, seeks to drive continued progress towards a low-carbon economy. “It aims to build a competitive and secure energy system that ensures affordable energy for all consumers, increases the security of the EU’s energy supplies, reduces our dependence on energy imports and creates new opportunities for growth and jobs”, the European Commission states. A decision on the framework will be taken at the latest by the coming October.

A central piece of the framework is the target to reduce by 2030 the EU domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below the 1990 level. This target will ensure that the EU is on the cost-effective track towards meeting its objective of cutting emissions by at least 80% by 2050. Most importantly, the Commission claims that “by setting its level of climate ambition for 2030, the EU will also be able to engage actively in the negotiations on a new international climate agreement that should take effect in 2020”.

This basically shows that the EU is eager to keep its global green leadership, although we must say that the feeling around the framework is somehow mixed. In times of economic crisis there’s ‘a bit more’ detachment on this kind of agreement. BusinessEurope, which has long argued against ambitious environmental targets, warned that “the overall level of ambition for a 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target is only realistic if a binding international climate agreement can be concluded in 2015. We urge the European Commission and the European Council to make sure that Europe will not be once again a lone frontrunner without followers”.

In a letter written to the President of the European Commission Barroso last January, BusinessEurope’s President Emma Marcegaglia and Director General Markus J. Beyrer highlighted as “essential” that the forthcoming Commission proposals on industrial competitiveness and the 2030 energy and climate policy are developed in a “consistent and complementary manner”. The letter openly asked President Barroso to “ensure that the climate and energy package is fully compatible with the need of strengthening our industries and restoring Europe as a place for industrial investment”.

It’s still not known how the framework will see the light, but we are pretty sure that the balance will consider the businessmen’s advice accurately.

In this delicate moment, no chance for discussion may be underestimated. All the events and meetings that will follow from here to the next fall will be decisive. All in all in this crucial year for the global environment Green Week can be an important stage to discuss this primordial topic and to take the next step for better strategic environmental policies.

Follow @carlomotta_ on Twitter

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Access and hesitancy as major challenges surrounding covid-19 vaccination campaigns

Why climate change matters for future health professionals

UN envoy says he ‘is ready to go to Idlib’ to help ensure civilian safety amid rising fears of government offensive

MEPs back EU partnership agreement with Armenia

Can we ensure patients’ safety without taking care of healthcare workers?

George Floyd: these are the injustices that led to the protests in the United States

State aid: Commission approves €1.1 billion Polish scheme to further support companies affected by coronavirus outbreak

Climate change update: consistent global actions urgently needed as we are running out of time

Colombia’s former president says COVID-19 shows the importance of listening to indigenous peoples on how we treat the planet

Remittances could fall by $100 billion because of COVID-19 – here’s why that matters

Database of businesses linked to Israeli settlements ‘important initial step’ towards accountability: rights expert

This study wants every child in the UK to spend a night under the stars

Guinea-Bissau: Upcoming elections vital to prevent ‘relapse’ into instability, says UN envoy

Greenery: the miracle cure for urban living

Gender Equality in Medicine: are we now so different from the Middle Ages?

Sustainability, peace, security ‘best guarantee against instability’ Guterres to Security Council

To build the workforce of the future, we need to revolutionize how we learn

The International Women’s Day 2031

COP25: MEPs push for CO2 neutrality by 2050

6 ways social innovators are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

Coronavirus: The truth against the myths

ECB is about to lend trillions to banks

UN General Assembly celebrates 20 years of promoting a culture of peace

Except Poland, can climate change also wait until 2021 for the EU Market Stability Reserve to be launched?

A Brussels antithesis reveals where the EU is heading

UN welcomes ‘record’ Brussels conference pledge of nearly $7 billion to support Syrians

Yemen: Escalation in fighting must stop ‘before it’s too late’, Griffiths tells Security Council

14 innovative projects helping to save the planet and make the world a better place

Why flexible workspaces are the key to winning the talent war

Eurozone slowly but surely builds its Banking Union

Mountains matter, especially if you’re young, UN declares

Azeri natural gas will keep the EU warm soon

AI can help with the COVID-19 crisis – but the right human input is key

‘Do something’; UN relief chief urges Security Council action to stop the Syrian carnage unfolding ‘in front of your eyes’

JADE Spring Meeting 2017 – day 3: JADE Academy trainings, networking session and gala dinner – Excellence Awards winners revealed

Over 820 million people suffering from hunger; new UN report reveals stubborn realities of ‘immense’ global challenge

5 ways to make your organization a great sustainability partner

‘Deteriorating’ human rights in Belarus amounts to ‘wholescale oppression’: UN expert

UN chief welcomes ‘first concrete step’ in normalizing Eritrea-Ethiopia relationship

COVID-19 vaccines: MEPs call for more clarity and transparency

State aid: Commission approves a Polish scheme to compensate large companies for damages suffered due to coronavirus outbreak and provide liquidity support

UN Convention that promotes mediation to resolve trade disputes moves closer to entry into force

More women in Latin America are working, but gender gap persists, new UN figures show

Good grub: why we might be eating insects soon

EUREKA @ European Business Summit 2014: A European patent system can help European businesses lead industrial research and innovation on a global scale

Terrorism ‘spreading and destabilizing’ entire regions, Guterres warns States, at key Kenya conference

Further reforms in France can drive growth, improve public finances and boost social cohesion

All for equality – 2020 is a pivotal year for Gender Equality

Questions and answers: Commission proposes SURE, a new temporary instrument worth up to €100 billion to help protect jobs and people in work

It’s getting harder to move data abroad. Here’s why it matters and what we can do

Parliament demands ban on neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups in the EU

EU farm policy reform: Council must be more flexible – we cannot waste more time

Coronavirus is creating retirement insecurity. These 10 steps can diffuse the timebomb of an ageing population

London wants new skyscrapers to protect cyclists from wind tunnels

EU ready to relinquish its internal tax havens

One Day in Beijing

The US reject EU proposal for prudential financial controls

Industrial producer prices on free fall and stagnant output

China by numbers: 10 facts to help you understand the superpower today

Car-free day – and the other 364 days of the year

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s