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Policies have a key role in determining the state of our environment. The EU has 35 years' experience of environmental policy-making, during which time well over 200 legal acts have been put in place and strategic paths have been defined. Initially, policy focused on regulating technical standards. Gradually, the spectrum of policy instruments has broadened, recognising that there is no single universal policy tool that can provide solutions to all problems. More
- Key facts and messages
- The notion of dedicated management of natural capital and ecosystem services is a compelling integrating concept for dealing with environmental pressures from multiple sectors. Spatial planning, resource accounting and coherence among sectoral... more
- Increased resource efficiency and security can be achieved, for example, using extended life cycle approaches to reflect the full environmental impacts of products and activities. This can reduce Europe's dependence on resources globally... more
- Transformation towards a greener European economy will ensure the long-term environmental sustainability of Europe and its neighbourhood. In this context, shifts in attitudes will be important. Together, regulators, businesses and citizens could... more
- The costs of adaptation in Europe could amount to billions of Euro per year in the medium and long term. Although the economics of adaptation options so far relies on limited information and a few modelling tools, assessments suggest that timely... more
- So far 11 European countries, and a few regions and cities, have adopted adaptation strategies. Mainstreaming adaptation in EU policies, strengthening the knowledge base and facilitating information sharing are key levers for building resilience.... more
- Adaptation strategies can reduce vulnerabilities and strengthen resilience. An increasing number of options have been identified, including no-regret measures that are relevant under all plausible future scenarios. In addition to technological... more
- The EU policy objective of halting biodiversity loss by 2010 has thus not been achieved. The implementation of EU environmental legislation and policy has had positive effects, but progress is slow and threats have grown both within Europe and... more
- Extending Natura2000 on land is a major success but progress in designating marine Natura2000 sites has been slow so far. Overall it is too early to judge the effectiveness of the management regimes that have been put in place. Success in achieving... more
- Land use decisions involve trade-offs between the current high attention to food and energy security, and more policy emphasis on multi-functionality taking into account ecosystem and natural resource management objectives. The diversity of... more
- Few countries have specific legislation to protect soil and there is no EU law or regulatory instrument that specifically addresses threats to it or requires the systematic collection of comparable data. The European Commission has published... more
- Sustainable use of the seas and the conservation of marine ecosystems through an ecosystem-based approach are being pursued through the Integrated Maritime Policy and its environmental pillar, the 2008 Marine Strategy Framework Directive, under... more
- Instigating such changes and making more resource-efficient and environmentally sustainable consumption patterns mainstream is a significant challenge. It requires public authorities to put the framework conditions in place to enable business... more
- Achieving significant reductions in the environmental pressures related to consumption will require sophisticated policy packages, including regulatory and voluntary instruments, providing sustainable infrastructure, technological support; consumer... more
- The overall trend in waste generation, including hazardous waste, is upwards. The 6th EAP objective of substantially reducing waste generation has neither been achieved nor is likely to be met in the coming decades unless production and consumption... more
- The management of waste has improved, with many countries recycling and recovering more, but more efforts are needed if the EU is to become a 'recycling society'. Implementation of existing legislation remains crucial, especially on the illegal... more
- Policy has only recently begun to address the challenges of the growing use of resources. Most actions taken to date do not comprehensively address the upstream causes of growth, focusing instead on the downstream consequences. As yet, there... more
- Many European river basins and waters have been altered by such human activities as water abstraction, land drainage, and dams. These often lead to major adverse ecological effects and leave limited space for natural habitats. Because of these... more
- Europe cannot endlessly increase its water supply, we must reduce demand. Policies are needed to encourage demand management. Demand measures could include the use of economic instruments; water loss controls; water-reuse and recycling; increased... more
- Good water resource management is required to meet the needs of a resource efficient future, sustain human and economic development and maintain the essential functions of our water ecosystems. The solutions lie in more integrated and sustainable... more
- The Water Framework Directive, the single most important piece of legislation relating to the quality of Europe’s fresh and coastal waters, aims to attain good ecological and chemical status by 2015. For a number of freshwater bodies, substantial... more
- Implementation of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, together with comparable non-EU legislation, has led to improvements in wastewater treatment across much of the continent. This has resulted in reduced point discharges of nutrients... more
- European air pollutant concentrations still frequently exceed limit values set by the EU Air Quality Directives. Many Member States have either not complied, or will not comply by the required target dates, with legally-binding air quality limits... more
- Only 14 European countries expect to comply with national 2010 emission ceilings for four pollutants (NOx, NMVOC, SO2 and NH3) set under EU and international legislation. The ceiling for nitrogen oxides (NOx) remains by far the most difficult... more
- Air pollution and climate change share common sources of emissions – primarily from fuel combustion in industry and households, transport and agriculture. A number of air pollutants contribute to changes in atmospheric radiative forcing. Many... more
- The urban environment is under pressure from sources both inside and outside individual urban areas, and local situations are influenced by national and European legislation as well as programmes. Therefore, a broadly integrated approach from... more
- Protected areas, including Natura 2000 sites in EU Member States, now account for 22 % of the terrestrial area of EEA member countries. more
- 43 % of the total area occupied by Natura 2000 sites in the EU-27 countries is located in mountain areas. more
- The quality of inland bathing waters – rivers and lakes – in the EU has improved significantly since 1990. In 2009, 89 % of inland bathing areas complied with mandatory values, while 71 % complied with the more stringent guide values. more
- A substantial proportion of Europe’s freshwaters are at risk of not achieving good status under the EU Water Framework Directive by 2015 (40 % of surface waters and 30 % of groundwaters, in 2004). more
- Only 14 European countries expect to comply with all four pollutant-specific emission ceilings set under EU and international legislation for 2010. more
- By increasing tax on pollution and other environmentally-damaging activities, governments can use the extra funds to provide incentives for innovation, such as developing renewable energy. For advanced economies like the EU, such schemes also... more
Almost all car and van manufacturers have met European carbon dioxide emission limits several years ahead of their deadlines, according to updated information from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
Adapting to climate change has reached the political agenda in most European countries, according to the most comprehensive analysis of adaptation in Europe published to date. Extreme weather events and EU policies were the most common reasons for beginning to address adaptation.
Europe can create jobs and encourage innovation by using resources much more efficiently, according to a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) which describes a range of policies with proven environmental and economic benefits.
The European Union's greenhouse gas emissions continued to fall in 2012, as a 1.3 % decrease cut emissions to 19.2 % below 1990 levels, according to official data from the European Environment Agency (EEA). This puts the EU within reach of its 20 % reduction target, with eight years to go until the 2020 deadline.
The average van sold in 2013 was around 4 % more efficient than the previous year, so the new vans fleet has already met the collective carbon emissions target ahead of the 2017 deadline, preliminary data shows. Similar findings were recently published for new cars, which have also met their target in advance.
Cars sold in 2013 were 4 % more efficient than the year before, according to provisional data. Average carbon dioxide emissions per kilometre have continued to fall, so in 2013 the European Union fleet already collectively met its legal target for 2015.
There are several methods for accounting for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The European Environment Agency (EEA) explains the key characteristics of different emissions accounting methods, highlighting the need for methodological improvements as well as better data coverage and quality.
In 2012, the average new van sold in the European Union emitted 180.2 g of carbon dioxide for every kilometre travelled, which is close to the 175 g CO2/km target to be gradually phased in between next year and 2017.