Key messages

Chapter 1: the state of the environment in Europe

Chapter 2: climate change


Climate change could lead to catastrophic impacts if unchecked

Europe's ambition is to limit global mean temperature increase to below 2 °C

The EU has been reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, and will meet its Kyoto obligation

A closer look at key sectoral greenhouse gas emissions reveals mixed trends

Looking ahead to 2020 and beyond: the EU is making some progress

Climate change impacts and vulnerabilities differ across regions, sectors and communities

Climate change is projected to have major impacts on ecosystems, water resources and human health

Dedicated adaptation by Europe is urgently needed to build resilience against climate impacts

Responding to climate change also affects other environmental challenges

Chapter 3: nature and biodiversity


Biodiversity loss degrades natural capital and ecosystem services

Europe’s ambition is to halt the loss of biodiversity and maintain ecosystem services

Biodiversity is still in decline

Land conversion drives biodiversity loss and degradation of soil functions

Forests are heavily exploited: the share of old-growth stands is critically low

Farmland areas decrease but management intensifies: species-rich grasslands are in decline

Terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems are still under pressure despite reduced pollution loads

The marine environment is heavily affected by pollution and overfishing

Maintaining biodiversity, also at global level, is crucial for people

Chapter 4: natural resources and waste


The overall environmental impact of Europe’s resource use continues to grow

Europe’s ambition is to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation

Waste management continues to shift from disposal to recycling and prevention

Life-cycle thinking in waste management contributes to reducing environmental impacts and resource use

Reducing resource use in Europe also reduces environmental impacts globally

Water demand management is essential for using water resources within natural limits

Consumption patterns are key drivers of resource use and waste generation

Trade facilitates European resource imports and shifts some of the environmental impacts abroad

Natural resource management is linked to other environmental and socio-economic issues

Chapter 5: environment, health and quality of life


Environment, health, life expectancy and social inequalities are linked

Europe’s ambition is to provide an environment not giving rise to harmful effects on health

For some pollutants ambient air quality has improved, but major health threats remain

Road traffic is a common source of several health impacts, especially in urban areas

Better wastewater treatment has led to improved water quality, but complementary approaches may be needed for the future

Pesticides in the environment have potential for unintended impacts to wildlife and humans

New chemical regulation may help, but the combined effects of chemicals remain an issue

Climate change and health is an emerging challenge for Europe

Natural environments provide multiple benefits to health and well-being, especially in urban areas

A broader perspective is needed to address ecosystem and health links and emerging challenges

Chapter 6: links between environmental challenges


Links between environmental challenges point towards increasing complexity

Land-use patterns reflect trade-offs in how we use natural capital and ecosystem services

Soil is a vital resource degraded by many pressures

Sustainable water management requires striking a balance between different uses

(Not) Keeping our environmental footprint within limits

How and where we use natural capital and ecosystem services matters

Chapter 7: environmental challenges in a global context


Environmental challenges in Europe and in the rest of the world are intertwined

Links between environmental challenges are particularly apparent in Europe’s direct neighbourhood

Environmental challenges are closely connected with global drivers of change

Environmental challenges may increase risks to food, energy and water security on a global scale

Global developments may increase Europe’s vulnerabilities to systemic risks

Chapter 8: future environmental priorities: some reflections


Unprecedented change, interconnected risks and increased vulnerabilities pose new challenges

Implementing and strengthening environmental protection provides multiple benefits

Dedicated management of natural capital and ecosystem services increases social and economic resilience

More integrated actions across policy domains can help in greening the economy

Stimulating fundamental transition towards a greener economy in Europe

List of abbreviations