The solutions for transitioning to sustainability involve innovative social practices, technologies and business models. Sustainability transitions are society‑wide, long-term processes built on innovation and knowledge creation.

With people and for people: Innovating for sustainability

Innovation is both a primary source of systemic environmental and sustainability challenges and an essential element in society’s response to such challenges. Technological innovation, which is a policy priority across Europe, has historically been a major ‘driver of change’ for society and the ecosphere. Although technological innovations deliver a multitude of benefits, they are also associated with significant collateral hazards and new challenges.

Our briefing belongs to a series called ‘Narratives for change’, which explores the diversity of ideas needed to transform our society to achieve sustainability goals and the ambitions of the European Green Deal. The briefing considers the ambiguities of technological innovation and the wider role of innovation in achieving sustainability.

Can we imagine living in symbiosis with nature?

The way humans have affected the Earth, its climate and ecosystems has prompted thinking about our time as a new geological period — ‘the Anthropocene’ — where our actions have lasting and potentially irreversible effect on the planet. 

The EEA briefing ‘Exiting the Anthropocene? Exploring fundamental change in our relationship with nature’ asks if we can imagine a world in which social and economic practices are in symbiosis with nature — rather than just means to human ends.

This briefing is part of our series called 'Narratives for change'.

What could a sustainable Europe look like in 2050?

Strategic foresight approaches are increasingly used to explore possible futures and their implications for policy and planning.

A significant increase in the uptake of electric cars and vans was recorded in the EU-27 in 2021. Electric car registrations for the year were close to 1,729,000, up from 1,061,000 in 2020. This represents an increase from 10.7% to 17.8% in the share of total new car registrations in just 1 year.

The uptake of electric vans also increased, from 2.1% of total new registrations in 2020 to 3.1% in 2021. The number of battery electric and plug-in hybrid cars are comparable in 2021, while battery electric vehicles accounted for the majority of electric van registrations in 2021.

Recently proposed legislation sets targets to cut CO2 emissions from cars by 55% and vans by 50% by 2030. It also proposes to completely cut emissions from cars and vans by 2035. A significant increase in the uptake of electric vehicles will be needed to achieve these goals.

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