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Deciding on Europe’s direction

Citizens across Europe are about to elect the new European Parliament and set the course for EU policies over the next five years. We asked Leena Ylä-Mononen, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency’s (EEA) about the significance of these elections and environment and climate challenges ahead.

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A future based on renewable energy

Faced with climate change, soaring energy prices and concerns about security of supply, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power seem an obvious way forward. What would it take to transform Europe’s existing energy system into one that is based on renewable sources?

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Interview — A sustainable finance system, what is it for?

What is sustainable finance and what role can it play in Europe’s shift to carbon neutrality? We asked the EEA’s lead expert on sustainable finance, Andreas Barkman, to explain what the EU has been doing to ensure that the financial sector plays its part in greening our financial system to support sustainable growth.

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High time to shift gear in transport sector

Societies depend in many ways on moving people and goods economically and efficiently from one place to another. International trade gives us access to foreign products and markets. People need ways of going to school, work and other activities. Transport is an essential part of our way of life but, in its current state, it is dependent on fossil fuels and puts serious pressure on the environment and climate.

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Interview — How to ensure a socially just transition

The European Green Deal puts emphasis on leaving no one behind, ensuring a just transition, in creating a more modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy. What does a socially just transition mean in practice? We spoke to Jorge Cabrita, research manager at Eurofound.

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Secure, affordable, and clean energy in times of crisis?

Europe is meeting a growing share of its energy needs through renewable sources but is also still dependent on oil and gas. With rapidly changing energy prices, concerns over keeping homes warm this winter and the commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there is a need to save energy, diversify its sources, accelerate the shift to renewables and support those who are most vulnerable.

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Editorial — Staying on course for a sustainable Europe

The droughts, heatwaves and wildfires of summer 2022 were a stark reminder of why mitigating climate change is a defining challenge of the 21st century. The EU’s commitment to become climate neutral by 2050 is the most ambitious climate agenda in the world. Delivering on this goal is a much-needed model for other countries and regions to do the same.

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Interview — Investing for sustainability

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the biggest multilateral financial institution in the world and one of the largest providers of climate finance in the form of grants, loans and guarantees. We interviewed Eva Mayerhofer, lead biodiversity and environment specialist at the EIB, about the challenges and opportunities of accelerating Europe’s green transition through sustainable financing.

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State of play: Energy underpins Europe’s climate ambitions

Europe is moving towards a future of low-carbon energy. The year 2020 marked an important milestone, as the EU achieved its first three climate and energy targets, namely reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% compared with 1990 levels, increasing the share of renewable energy used to 20%, and improving energy efficiency by 20%.

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Editorial — The value of nature

The loss of biodiversity and natural ecosystems we are currently witnessing is just as catastrophic as climate change. In fact, the two are closely entwined, as climate change accelerates biodiversity loss and healthy ecosystems are a vital ally in the fight against climate change.

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Interview — Economics of biodiversity: can accounting help save nature?

Can putting a value on nature help protect it or do we need new governance models? How is trade linked to biodiversity loss and inequalities? We talked to James Vause, the lead economist at the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), who contributed to the Dasgupta review on the economics of biodiversity, especially to the chapter focused on trade and the biosphere.

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Our nature needs urgent help

Awareness of our nature has never been as high as it is today. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions many of us headed outside to our nearest green spaces for respite and solace — necessary breaks from our lockdown existence. It once again reminded us of the vital and valued role that our nature plays in our mental and physical well-being.

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Restoring the natural world

Europe has set ambitious policy goals to allow nature to recover and flourish, increasing the benefits to society of a healthy natural world. From protected areas and green and blue infrastructure to restoration, rewilding and using nature-based solutions to climate change, much needs to be done to reverse the deterioration in the health of nature.

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At a glance: EU legislation on nature

EU Member States started coordinating environmental policies in the 1970s and nature was the first area for European action. To this day, the nature directives — the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive, first adopted in 1979 and 1992, respectively — constitute the cornerstone of the EU’s efforts to protect and preserve biodiversity.

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What is harming Europe’s nature?

European nature is suffering the consequences of long-term exploitation and pollution. Nature keeps providing us with food, clothes, medicines, housing, energy and other resources, but ecosystems and many plants and animals are in decline, sometimes being pushed to extinction. What are the human activities that harm nature the most and how can we stop and reverse current biodiversity loss?

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Interview — Vital role of bird monitors

Monitoring wildlife and habitats plays a key role in expert assessments. We spoke with Petr Voříšek, member of the coordination team of the European Breeding Bird Atlas 2 at the Czech Society for Ornithology, about how such information and data are put together on a European scale and what challenges bird populations face today.

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Interview — Protecting nature in a changing climate: our actions must focus on resilience

From changes in species habitats and communities to water availability and flowering seasons, climate change impacts ecosystems and biodiversity. We asked Professor Dr Beate Jessel, President of the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, about the links between biodiversity and climate change and what could be done to boost nature’s resilience in a changing climate.

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Joint efforts for better knowledge about maritime transport and the environment

The European Environment Agency (EEA) and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) have recently published the European Maritime Transport Environmental Report (EMTER), which is a joint assessment about the environmental impacts of maritime transport in Europe. We interviewed Stéphane Isoard, Head of group for water and marine topics at the EEA, who was leading the EEA team working on the report.

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Sustainable cities: transforming Europe’s urban landscapes

From carbon neutrality to circular economy, cleaner air to cleaner transport, Europe has set ambitious environmental and climate objectives. Cities, where the large majority of Europeans live, need to play a decisive role in achieving Europe’s sustainability targets. The question is: how can cities become sustainable?

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Living in a state of multiple crises: health, nature, climate, economy, or simply systemic unsustainability?

From policy corridors to academic platforms, the world has been talking about global crises: a health crisis, an economic and financial crisis, a climate crisis and a nature crisis. Ultimately, they are all symptoms of the same problem: our unsustainable production and consumption. The COVID-19 shock has only revealed the systemic frailty of our global economy and society with all their inequalities.

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