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

Protecting European consumers: Safety Gate efficiently helps take dangerous COVID-19 products off the market

EU trade agreements deliver on growth and jobs, support sustainable development

European Youth Event 2016 – bridge between youth and policy makers

Civilians ‘must never be a target,’ says UN in Afghanistan, amid troubling number of casualties during Ramadan

Digital business is Europe’s best hope to get back to growth

Australia urged to evacuate offshore detainees amid widespread, acute mental distress

Strict alcohol laws which cut intake more than 40 per cent in Russia, linked to historically high life expectancy

Unemployment and exclusion brings EU cities to boiling point

Cyber-Risk Assessments: the vaccine for companies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Why the global trade of chemicals is key to COVID-19 recovery

These are the world’s best universities by subject

ISIS fighters fleeing Mosul for Syria can topple Assad. Why did the US now decide to uproot them from Iraq?

If we want to solve climate change, water governance is our blueprint

EU revengefully shows no mercy to Cameron by demanding a fast and sloppy Brexit now

Turkey presents a new strategy for EU accession but foreign policy could be the lucky card

The EU Parliament sidesteps the real issues about banks, while the US target the Eurozone lenders

These scientists are using sound waves to filter plastic fibres from washing machine wastewater

State aid: Commission approves € 1.6 billion Polish scheme to compensate companies for damages suffered due to coronavirus outbreak and provide liquidity support

How climate change can be addressed through executive compensation

North Korea missile tests ‘deeply troubling’: senior UN official

A Young student assesses the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)

How we planted more than 5,000 trees during the COVID-19 pandemic

Draghi cuts the Gordian knot of the Banking Union

‘Democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people’ must be met urges Guterres, following military removal of al-Bashir from power

5G security: Member States report on progress on implementing the EU toolbox and strengthening safety measures

These are the ‘positive’ tipping points that could slow global warming

EU Budget: A Reform Support Programme and an Investment Stabilisation Function to strengthen Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union

African cooperation on peace ‘increasingly strong’, Security Council told

Why the Greeks forgave Tsipras’ pirouettes around austerity and voted again for SYRIZA

Who can compel Wallonia to unlock CETA, the EU-Canada free trade pack?

EU adopts €55 million support package for Syrian refugees and local communities in Jordan and Lebanon to mitigate coronavirus pandemic

Eurobarometer survey: Majority of EU citizens positive about international trade

Social, cultural diversity ‘an enormous richness, not a threat’ Guterres declares calling on investment for a harmonious future

Plastic waste from Western countries is poisoning Indonesia

EU at UNGA 76: working together to address global challenges

Atomic agency cites concerns over Iran testing sites, offers COVID-19 assistance

EU-China Leaders’ meeting: Delivering results by standing firm on EU interests and values

ILO’s Bureau for Employers´Activities to publish new study on women in business and management

Yemen: ‘A great first step’ UN declares as aid team accesses grain silo which can feed millions

Kids who live in the countryside have better motor skills, a study in Finland has found

Taxation: Commission refers Poland to Court for failing to remove certain tax exemptions on the use of energy products by highly polluting businesses

This project is using AI and drones to track and protect great white sharks

The global issue of migration in 2017

High anxiety calls for innovation in digital mental health

An alternative to the future of antimicrobial therapy

IMF: How To Deal With Failed Banks

World’s most powerful tidal turbine pumps out greener electricity in Scotland

Coronavirus fears may have driven over 300,000 UK smokers to quit

On the Global Day of Parents, UNICEF is urging support for parents to give children ‘the best start in life’

The dangers of data: why the numbers never tell the full story

COVID-19 shows why we must build trust in digital financial services

Can a Bavarian Oktoberfest beer indulger bring down the Berlin government?

Combatting antisemitism requires ‘solidarity in the face of hatred’, says UN chief

EU’s new sanctions on Russia into force “in the next few days”: strength, weakness or strategy?

EU to set up new European Partnerships and invest nearly €10 billion for the green and digital transition

Courage of terrorism survivors underlines ‘urgency’ of UN Investigative Team’s work in Iraq

Women-Friendly Spaces for Rohingya refugees: A place for protection and care

Plans to keep EU budget funding in 2020 in the event of a no-deal Brexit

Most US students aren’t learning about climate change. Parents and teachers think they should

GSMA Mobile World Congress Americas

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

%d bloggers like this: