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Paris Clean Air Forum: Member States inaction contributing to air pollution says Moscovici

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 04:17

Pierre Moscovici, the French Commissioner, speaking on behalf of the EU executive, at the closing session of the Paris Clean Air Forum said that Member States inaction is a key brake on efforts to improve air quality.  In particular, he criticised Member States for not having been bold enough to introduce green taxes.  Whilst some Member States were seeking to modernise their tax systems as a means to decarbonise their economies and comply with the recently agreed climate targets, not enough was been done across the Member States and in particular no immediate plans for fiscal reforms that could address air pollution at local level.  He underlined that the European Commission could not lead the fight against air pollution alone and the support and political will of national governments was vital to move forward. Moscovici reminded the forum delegates that the European Commission had seen its efforts in 2015 for Member States to collect more revenues from polluting sectors through green taxation rebuffed at that time.   A recent medical journal published evidence showing that Air pollution was responsible for more than 400,000 deaths a year in the EU alone.

Karmenu Vella meanwhile spoke of the need to tackle automotive and agricultural sectors and the emission of dangerous particulate matters.  He underlined in his speech the important work of the European Environment Agency and the need for partnerships between EU, Member States and cities and regions if we were to success in bring air pollution down.  He confirmed that in 2018 the Commission would host an Eco Innovation Forum dedicated to clean air.


Tags: Air qualityParisEuropean Commissionnewsflash: Issue 56

Paris Clean Air forum: European Commission launches its new Real time Air Quality Index and Atlas

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 04:15

Last week, at the Paris Clean Air Forum, attended by Bruno Weinzaepfel from AFITE, the European Commission and the European Environment Agency launched their new Air Quality Index and an Air Quality Atlas.The Air Quality Index has a user-friendly interactive map that shows the local air quality situation, based on five key pollutants that harm people's health and the environment: particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), ground-level ozone(O3),nitrogen dioxide(NO2) and sulphur dioxide(SO2). Displaying real-time data for the whole of Europe, the new Index allows citizens to find out how clean the air is that they are breathing. Users can zoom in or search any town or region in Europe to check the local air quality situation. The Air Quality Atlas provides information on the geographical and sectorial sources of air pollution for the 150 biggest cities in Europe. It shows that pollutant emissions in cities originate mainly different human activities; and that transport, agriculture, industry and residential heating and responsible for the largest part. Designed to help implement the EU Air Quality Directives, the Air Quality Index and the Air Quality Atlas will help citizens and policymakers better understand the levels of air quality in their own environments.  Currently, the directives define and establish standards for ambient air quality for key pollutants which have to be reached by all Member States across their territories. Member States then decide on the means to achieve these standards, but they have to make sure that periods during which they are exceeded are kept as short as possible. The Directives also set common methods and criteria to assess air quality. Member States must report 'up to date' air quality measurements, as well as information on their plans and programmes to meet the standards set out by the Air Quality Directives, to the European Commission and the general public.  EU air quality standards and targets are breached in many regions and cities, and public health suffers accordingly, with rising costs to health care and the economy. The total external health-related costs to society from air pollution are estimated to be in the range of €330-940 billion per year.


Tags: Air qualityParisEuropean CommissionEEAnewsflash: Issue 56

Eco-innovation for air quality

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 04:09

The 21st European Forum on Eco-innovation will be held in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 5-6 February 2018. The Forum will examine eco-innovative solutions for improving air quality. It will bring together companies and public authorities that have already succeeded in developing and deploying effective new technologies, or innovative business and governance models, with those who are looking for such solutions and practices. Efforts undertaken by governments, cities and businesses to implement the Ambient Air Quality Directives can still be greatly boosted by the use of new innovative solutions like advanced technologies for household heating, implementation of strategic urban mobility plans, or pioneering ways to reduce pollution from farming practices. To support the European Commission seeks to stimulate eco-innovation in this area so that more accessible, applicable and cost effective products, services and models are created, tested and widely deployed in European countries.  In particular, air pollution originating from energy use, transport and agriculture will be addressed. The issue of how to secure financing for eco-innovative solutions will also be prominently discussed. This event will be jointly organized by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Environment and the Ministry of Environment and Water of the Republic of Bulgaria.


Tags: Eco-innovationAir qualitynewsflash: Issue 56

EU Emissions Trading System: landmark agreement between Parliament and Council delivers on EU's commitment to turn Paris Agreement into reality

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 04:04

The European Parliament and Council have today reached a provisional agreement to revise the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) for the period after 2020. This revision will contribute to put the EU on track to achieving a significant part of its commitment under the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030.  The EU Emissions Trading Scheme puts a cap on the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by more than 11,000 installations in the power sector and energy intensive industry through a market-based cap and trade system. The deal includes:-

  • Significant changes to the system in order to speed up emissions reductions and strengthen the Market Stability Reserve to speed up the reduction of the current oversupply of allowances on the carbon market;
  • Additional safeguards to provide European industry with extra protection, if needed, against the risk of carbon leakage;
  • Several support mechanisms to help the industry and the power sectors meet the innovation and investment challenges of the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Next steps

With final approval from the European Parliament and the Council, the revised EU ETS Directive will be published in the Official Journal of the Union and enters into force 20 days after publication.

Read more

Watch ETS video

Tags: ETSnewsflash: Issue 56

MEPS discuss future priorities for the Environment Implementation Review

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 04:01

With the first of the two-year cycles of the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) published in February 2017, MEPs have given their verdict (in the form of a resolution) on this first cycle and outlined their expectations for future rounds. The EIR identifies widespread compliance problems in a wide variety of environmental legislation due to financial capacity of the environment ministries or their access to key competencies.   Motivated by recent Eurobarometer polls, the European Commission points out that more than 75% of European citizens find EU environmental legislation necessary for protecting the environment in their country, with nearly 80% agreeing that the EU institutions should be able to check that environmental legislation is being applied correctly in their country.  The Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) is a two-year cycle of analysis and dialogue to improve the implementation of existing EU environmental policy and legislation.  The EIR is designed to complement the ongoing implementation efforts such as ensuring compliance and infringement procedures. It offers a coherent framework to tackle common implementation challenges and will contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.


Ahead of the next two year review (scheduled in 2019), MEPs have called on the European Commission to monitor implementation progress in new areas including:-

  • hormone and medicine residues in waste water,
  • surface water and groundwater and their effects on drinking water,
  • human health and biodiversity in the next review,
  • Greater use of scoreboards that could be easily visible by the public.
  • chemicals,
  • industrial emissions and;
  • national action on climate change

More information on the debate in EP (download the attached final resolution or go to the European Commission EIR page.

Tags: EIRimplementationnewsflash: Issue 56

Most EU countries failing to ensure effective access to industrial pollution information

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 03:59

More than half of the EU’s Member States are failing to share crucial information about highly-polluting activities effectively online.  Many are failing to meet even the minimum requirements for transparency required by EU law. In research published recently by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) looked into 26 EU Member States, Norway and a number of regional authorities and has found a huge divergence in the quality and quantity of information available. Researchers looked for the minimum information required by the EU’s Industrial Emissions Directive, a key European law that’s supposed to help reduce pollution and raise standards across a range of big industries. The law requires authorities to publish operating permits online alongside a justification for the permit being issued and certain other specific information. Some Member States went further and shared significant amounts of other relevant data, including details data on the quantity and type of pollution being emitted. The information concerned includes permitting conditions for all major industrial plants in the EU, including coal-fired power stations, large waste incinerators and intensive agricultural facilities. The findings pose serious questions about some countries’ commitment to European environmental protections and compliance with international access to information requirements.

Click here to view the interactive map.


Tags: industrial emissions directiveIndustrynewsflash: Issue 56

High profile European Parliament hearing glyphosate takes place in response to petition

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 03:57

The European Parliament held a lively public hearing last week on the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “Ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides”, on 20th November. The hearing comes at a key moment as the European Commission is appealing the Member States rejection of a 5-year licence renewal for glyphosate from the 15th December 2017 when the current one expires. The hearing was organised by the Committee on Environment, Public health and Food Safety, together with the Committee on Petitions, the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. It comes as a direct response to the ECI that gathered 1.3 million signatures calling for legislation to ban glyphosate, introduce mandatory pesticide reduction targets and reform EU scientific evaluation procedures for pesticides. During the hearing, the Commission representatives underlined that they would not be swayed by pressure from the agrochemical industry to re-approve glyphosate but that there is presently no legal or scientific basis for a ban of the controversial pesticide.  In the debate that followed, campaigners complained that the conclusion reached by EU agencies for chemicals (ECHA) and food safety (EFSA) that there is no cancer risk associated with glyphosate were flawed despite a WHO report to the contrary.  The European Commission representative from DG SANTE said though that there was no scientific or legal reason for a ban in the context of pesticides legislation.   A number of MEPS in the debate called for the licence renewal to be based on scientific evidence only and that the spreading of misinformation was not helping anyone. Other MEPs called upon the Commission to stand up for the precautionary principle to protect over 100 million Europeans who are exposed to the chemical.   Closing the debate, Health and food safety commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis replied that he was not a man to be pressured by big industry on questions like these. He recalled how he had been arrested by the KGB in a previous life and imprisoned… making a parallel with the principle corporation behind glyphosate who he said would not sway his decision.  The Commissioner underlined that the executive would follow the rule of law and would formally respond to the citizens initiative in the months ahead.

Watch ECI now

Download agenda and papers from hearing

Tags: ECIGlyphosatenewsflash: Issue 56

Waste Management - food waste by tackling oversupply

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 03:53

Food systems have to be aligned with environmental sustainability and the circular economy with the focus being shifted from downstream recovery to cutting oversupply.  That is the view of a new Italian environment agency study published last week.  The study defines food waste as that which ‘exceeds dietary requirements and ecological capacities.  Under this definition, it is estimated to represent 60% of food energy in Italy, and 63% in Europe. Food waste has emerged recently as one of the major environmental and socio-economic issues that humanity faces. Analysis on the subject are at the early stage and the concordance on methodologies need to be developed. This report reviews international literature and analyses the most relevant links between food wastage and other issues, such a land/soil, water, energy consumption, degradation of biological integrity, climate change, alteration of the nitrogen cycle, food safety and sovereignty, circular bioeconomy, in order to build a socio-ecological vision.


Tags: Feed wastecircular economynewsflash: Issue 56

European Commission Work Programme published for 2018

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 03:51

The 2018 European Commission work programme (ECWP2018) was published on the 24th October and confirms the Commission’s intention to push three overarching themes next year. In the ECWP2018, the European Commission commits to finalising all its proposals before May 2018 in order to allow the European Parliament and European Council to negotiate and adopt proposals before the campaigns for the 2019 European Parliament elections get underway in the Autumn of 2018. 

On the Climate and environment front the will bring forward new proposals including:

  • a Reflection Paper "Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030, covering the follow-up to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including on the Paris Agreement on Climate Change" (non-legislative, in Q2 2018)
  • the launch of its new high level Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) multi-stakeholder platform that will be chaired by First Vice President Franz Timmermans.
  • Adopt 5 measures to stimulate the implementation of the Circular Economy action plan adopted last year including
    a strategy on plastics use, reuse and recycling (non-legislative, Q4 2017);
    a proposal for a Regulation on minimum quality requirements for reused water (legislative, incl. impact assessment, Art. 192 TFEU, Q4 2017);
    a REFIT revision of the Drinking Water Directive (legislative, incl. impact assessment, Art. 192 TFEU, Q4 2017);
    an initiative to address legal, technical or practical bottlenecks at the interface of chemical, product and waste legislation (non-legislative, Q4 2017); and
    a monitoring framework for the circular economy (non-legislative, Q4 2017)
  • an initiative on sustainable finance


Tags: ECWPEC Work Programme 2018newsflash: Issue 56

€160 billion budget for the European Union in 2018 approved

Mon, 11/27/2017 - 03:47

Last week, during a marathon meeting running into the early hours, the EU institutions reached an agreement on the 2018 EU budget for the European Union directing money to where the needs are. The biggest part of the EU budget will go to stimulate the creation of jobs, especially for young people, and to boost growth, strategic investments and convergence. The EU will also continue supporting the efforts to effectively deal with the migration challenge, both inside and outside of the EU. Nearly half of the funds - €77.5 billion in commitments – will go to making our economy stronger, our universities more competitive, our companies better equipped to compete on the global market place. This includes, €2 billion to the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the core of the Juncker Plan, €354 million will support small and medium-sized companies (Competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, COSME programme) and €11.2 billion will go to Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation funding programme. A total of €55.5 billion will go to boosting growth, job creation and fostering convergence in all Member States and regions via the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds). Young people will get more support and better opportunities to find jobs thanks to €350 million for the Youth Employment Initiative, a key action which seeks to address the challenge of youth unemployment in our Member States. Support to European farmers in 2018 amounts to €59 billion.  Further to the launch of the European Defence Fund, €40 million are budgeted to fund collaborative research in innovative defence technologies and products. With €25 million already allocated in 2017, the total EU budget devoted to defence research until 2019 amount to €90 million.  Nearly €4.1 billion will be dedicated to managing migration and tackling security challenges. With the bulk of funding already frontloaded, the total for these policy areas will amount to €22 billion in the 2015-2018 period. This annual budget forms part of the overall 7 year Multi Annual Financing Framework agreed between all Member States for the period 2014-2020 into which the overall forecasts for 2017 were first confirmed.


                                      Overview of the EU budget 2018 (in million )


Budget 2018 
(nominal change in % compared to 2017)

commitments to pay out funds to specific initiatives

payments forecast for the period covered by the budget

1. Smart and inclusive growth:

77,534 (+2,8%)

66,624 (+34,9%)

Competitiveness for growth and jobs

22,001 (+3,2%)

20,097 (+4%)

Economic, social and territorial cohesion

55,532 (+2,7%)

46,527 (+54,7%)

2. Sustainable Growth: natural resources

59,285 (+1,2%)

56,084 (+3,6%)

Market related expenditure and direct aids

43,235 (+1,5%)

43,189 (+1,5%)

3. Security and Citizenship

3,493 (-18,5%)

2,981 (-7,6%)

4. Global Europe

9,569 (-8,3%)

8,906 (-1,7%)

5. Administration

9,666 (+2,9%)

9,666 (+2,9%)

Other special Instruments

0,567 (-67,6%)

0,42 (-73,5%)

Total appropriations

160,114 (+0,2%)

144,681 (+14,1%)

Tags: eu budget2018newsflash: Issue 56