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The electric car finally seems to be on the verge of breaking through, offering significant environmental benefits, especially in urban areas. Innovative business models are on the way which should boost consumer acceptance and overcome the remaining barriers, such as high battery costs, green electricity supply and charging infrastructure.
The shortcomings of GDP as a measure of economic and social wellbeing have been recognised for decades. Now the economic and environmental crises have created the political momentum for a radical revision of national accounting methods.
Barcelona is becoming a leader in solar energy use, Malmö is developing a carbon neutral residential area and London is setting ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets. Cities are joining in the fight against climate change.
As a major contributor to greenhouse gases, the transport sector figures high on the international climate change agenda. But for many living in cities, under flight paths or near major road and rail links, it's another of transport's by-products that causes most immediate harm: noise.
Agriculture imposes a heavy and growing burden on Europe's water resources, threatening water shortages and damage to ecosystems. To achieve sustainable water use, farmers must be given the right price incentives, advice and assistance.
'Our water is shut off once or twice a month, sometimes more,' says Baris Tekin from his apartment in Besiktas, an historic district of Istanbul, where he lives with his wife and daughter.
'We have about 50 litres of bottled water in the apartment for washing and cleaning, just in case. If the water is off for a really long time we go to my father's place or to my wife's parents,' says Baris, an economics professor at Marmara University.
Is gardening one of your interests? If so and you live in central or northern Europe, the 'killer slug' is probably one of your personal enemies. The slug, which attacks your herbs and vegetables relentlessly, seems immune to control measures.
The seas, and especially the European ones, are warming up. More likely than not, the Arctic will have ice-free summers well before the end of this century. Fish and plankton are already expanding their geographical distribution further north, and the seasonal cycles of certain species are changing.
A fisherman's tale: on the night of 6 October 1986 lobster fishermen from the small town of Gilleleje, north of Copenhagen, fishing the Kattegat Sea, found their nets crammed with Norway lobster. Many of the animals were dead or dying. About half were a strange colour.
Rising standards of living often boost demand for water-intensive goods and services. Only by managing water consumption — using measures such as water pricing and incentives to adopt new technologies — can we ensure sustainable public water access alongside economic growth.
Every winter the gates of Copenhagen's famous Tivoli Gardens, an old-world amusement park in the city centre, open to officially mark the beginning of the extended Christmas period. This December the twinkling lights of Tivoli will most likely be outshone by COP 15 — the most important global climate change meeting ever — as thousands of diplomats, politicians, business people, environmentalists, media and climate experts from around the globe flock to the Danish capital.
* The characters in this story are fictional. However the data are real. The story is set on 27 July 2008 when an air quality warning was issued in Brussels.
Waste without borders: Zhang Guofu, 35, makes EUR 700 a month, a huge wage in provincial China, sifting through waste that includes shopping bags from a British supermarket chain and English-language DVDs. The truth is that waste placed in a bin in London, can quite easily end up 5 000 miles away in a recycling factory in China's Pearl River delta.
Bioenergy is not new. For millennia, people have been burning wood. The industrial revolution in the mid-1800s brought so called 'fossil fuels', mainly coal and oil, to the fore. However, fossil fuels are becoming more difficult to find and extract, more expensive, and subject to intense political debate.
Climate change is happening and its effects are wide-ranging. While the worst effects may not hit Europe this year or next, we cannot afford to be complacent. Europeans must put in place timely, adequate and cost-effective adaptation measures.
Climate change adaptation must be integrated into policies across all sectors and engage all levels of society. To achieve this, new frameworks and governance structures are needed.
We already have much information to guide strategic climate change response measures at the EU, national, regional and local levels. But the effectiveness and efficiency of actions can be improved with more and better information.
The findings and expertise of the European Environment Agency (EEA) on the subject of biofuels highlight that bioenergy can play an important role in combating climate change, specifically if biomass is used for heating and electricity. However, increasing production and use of first-generation agrofuels risks not achieving the required global and EU greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reductions and can lead to adverse effects on biodiversity, water and soil. In Europe and globally we need strong sustainability criteria for all energy uses of biomass, not only for agrofuels.
For references, please go to http://www.eea.europa.eu/articles/all-articles or scan the QR code.
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