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You are here: Home / Environmental topics / Environmental technology / Policy context

Policy context

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The importance of eco-innovation is fully recognised in the Lisbon Strategy the EU Sustainable Development Strategy and the 6th environmental action programme (6EAP). The Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP), adopted for implementation in January 2004, complements the European Commission’s regulatory approaches. ETAP encompasses a number of actions to promote eco-innovation and the uptake of environmental technologies. Its priorities are to promote research and development, mobilise funds and help drive demand and improve market conditions.

ETAP complements the European Commission's regulatory approaches and directly addresses the three dimensions of the Lisbon Strategy: growth, jobs and the environment. Based on ETAP, Member States have developed formal National Roadmaps, describing plans, actions and achievements relevant to environmental technologies and eco-innovations.

Research and development is an important element of the Lisbon Strategy, which aims 'to make Europe the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world'. The European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) for Research (2007–2013) is also expected to play a key role in achieving the Lisbon objectives. A number of European Technology Platforms will continue to direct FP7 towards the needs of industry. These address technology topics such as wind energy, hydrogen fuel cells, photovoltaics and zero emission fossil fuel power plants. Such platforms will have a major influence on Europe's innovative capacity for transforming knowledge and innovation into added economic value and environmental sustainability.

Europe's journey towards zero-emissions was set in motion by a number of targets: a 20 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 (compared to 1990 levels); 20 % of energy to come from renewable sources by 2020; and 10 % of road transport fuel to come from biofuels. Such targets have created considerable potential for new energy technologies and for the transformation of decade-old energy regimes. The 21st century will see a reconfiguration of the power grids with new, smaller, more widely distributed renewable energy production technologies that operate at more local levels, even down to individual households.

Technologies alone cannot solve Europe's environmental problems. A combination of approaches is needed, from legislative measures to voluntary actions, to achieve clear economic and environmental advantages. Regulations such as the Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) have proved to be an effective way of encouraging industry and businesses in Europe to reduce waste and adopt recycling by promoting the use of clean technology.  Similarly, voluntary approaches such as the eco-management and auditing scheme (EMAS) have elicited continuous environmental performance improvements for thousands of industries and organisations in Europe.

 

 

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