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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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Improving environmental performance in organisations

Besides providing trusted information on our environment and climate, the European Environment Agency (EEA) is working to improve its own environmental performance as an organisation. We interviewed Melanie Sporer who coordinates these efforts at the EEA, using the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS).

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Reflecting on climate-neutrality ambitions in Europe in times of Covid-19

European countries are taking drastic measures to limit the impacts of Covid-19 on Europeans’ health and the economy. Such crises tend to have immediate and severe impacts on entire populations and the economy. Considering its potential to affect key economic sectors, the coronavirus crisis is expected to reduce some of the impacts of economic activities on the environment and climate. Yet, major and abrupt shocks with an extremely high cost to society are not at all how the European Union has committed to transform its economy and achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The European Green Deal and the recently proposed European Climate Law call instead for irreversible and gradual reductions in emissions, while ensuring a just transition, supporting those affected.

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Making sustainability happen: new European policies offer a unique opportunity

Ursula von der Leyen, president-elect of the European Commission, set her team’s political priorities for the next five years. A European Green Deal, outlining more ambitious action on climate and biodiversity crises, is at the heart of her agenda. European policies have long tackled environmental degradation and climate change with some success and some failures. Supported by growing calls for action by the public, this new policy term — with the new European Commission and Parliament — provides a unique opportunity to scale up and speed up a green and just transition for Europe.

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EEA: 25 years of growing knowledge to support European environment policies

The European Union (EU) has one of the most ambitious sets of environment and climate targets in the world, covering a wide range of policy areas from air quality, waste and water quality to energy and transport. Based on data reported by Member States, the European Environment Agency helps to monitor progress and identify the areas where additional efforts are needed. Since its establishment 25 years ago, the EEA has been developing its data and knowledge work to support policy making in Europe.

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Electric vehicles: a smart choice for the environment

Are electric vehicles better for our climate and air quality than petrol or diesel cars? We sat down with Andreas Unterstaller, the European Environment Agency’s (EEA) transport and environment expert to discuss the pros and cons of electric cars which is the focus of a new EEA report.

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Understanding and acting on the complexity of climate change

Climate change is one of the most important challenges of our time. Its impacts are felt across the globe, affecting people, nature and the economy. To mitigate climate change, we need to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases significantly. Translating this overall objective into concrete measures requires understanding a complex system linking emissions from different sources to national and regional impacts, global governance and potential co-benefits. The European Environment Agency strives to continuously improve the knowledge needed for designing effective measures on the ground.

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Aviation and shipping emissions in focus

The European Environment Agency (EEA) recently published its annual Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism (TERM) report, which this year focused on aviation and shipping. The two sectors are growing rapidly, which also has an impact on the environment, notably emissions. We asked Anke Lükewille, EEA expert on air pollution, to explain the key points of this year’s TERM report.

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Tracking Europe’s progress on meeting 2020 climate and energy targets

The European Union (EU) has committed to several climate and energy targets which aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency and boost the use of renewable energy sources. How does the EEA track the progress EU Member States are making in reaching these goals? We asked Melanie Sporer, EEA expert on climate change mitigation and energy, to explain the Agency’s role in this task. She has also explained the annual progress in the latest Trends and Projections report.

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Cleaner air benefits human health and climate change

Thanks to legislation, technology and moves away from heavily polluting fossil fuels in many countries, Europe’s air quality has been improving in recent decades. However, many people continue to be negatively affected by air pollution, especially in cities. Given its complexity, tackling air pollution requires taking coordinated action at many levels. To get citizens involved, providing them timely information in an accessible way is essential. Our recently launched Air Quality Index does just that. Improvements in air quality would not only benefit our health, but could also help tackle climate change.

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Climate finance: resources for low-carbon, climate-resilient Europe

Our climate is changing. We must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the rate of climate change, and at the same time, take measures that help us prepare for current and future impacts. Both of these strands of action require unprecedented redirection of investments. This was acknowledged by the climate conferences in Paris and recently in Marrakesh. The finance sector can and will play an instrumental role in supporting Europe’s transition towards a low- carbon, climate-resilient society.

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Beyond Paris: making low-carbon economy happen

Last December in Paris, the world set itself an ambitious target: limiting the global average temperature rise well below 2 degrees, while aiming to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. At the G20 summit earlier this month, China and the United States announced their formal commitment to join the Paris agreement. This is a major step forward for the international effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming. Nevertheless, the current reduction commitments made so far by signatory countries are not sufficient to meet this ambitious target.

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Electric vehicles: moving towards a sustainable mobility system

Modern society depends on the movement of goods and people, but our current transport systems have negative impacts on human health and the environment. We spoke to Magdalena Jóźwicka, project manager of an upcoming report on electric vehicles, about the environmental advantages and challenges of using electricity as an alternative to conventional fuels for vehicles.

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Sustainable management is the key to healthy forests in Europe

Forests in Europe provide us essential services: clean air, clean water, natural carbon storage, timber, food and other products. They are home to many species and habitats. We talked about the challenges Europe’s forests face with Annemarie Bastrup-Birk, forest and environment expert at the European Environment Agency.

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Climate agreement: towards a low-carbon, climate resilient world

The climate deal agreed in Paris by 195 countries is the first-ever universal and legally binding agreement of its kind. The Paris agreement is the result of many years of preparation, dialogue and growing awareness of the need to tackle current and potential impacts of climate change. It constitutes a major and promising step towards building a low-carbon and climate-resilient world. It also sends a clear signal to policy makers and businesses to move away from fossil fuels and invest in clean energy and adaptation actions.

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Climate change: investing in low-carbon solutions and adaptation

Our climate is changing. We need to adapt to current and expected changes, while maximising our efforts to quickly and sharply reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. And 2015 can be a turning point for global climate policies. Europe and the world must seize the opportunity and allocate sufficient funds to end the carbon dependency of the global economy.

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A strong environment as the basis for Europe's future economy

Europe selected its new policy makers. They will need to address not only today's challenges but also set in motion policies that will affect Europeans well beyond their five-year mandate. What do they need to do today to make sure that Europeans live well in the future? By taking action at the EU level and tackling environment and climate issues, EU policy makers can actually revive the economy and guarantee our long-term well-being.

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EU policies deliver greenhouse gas emission reductions

The European Union has been reducing its greenhouse gas emissions since 1990. The EU has ‘over-achieved’ its Kyoto target for the period 2008–2012 and is projected to ‘over-achieve’ its 2020 targets. Can we reduce GHG emissions and have a strong economy at the same time? What was the impact of the recent recession on the EU’s GHG emissions? Does policy work?

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Tackling climate change requires a shift to a resource efficient, low carbon and green economy

Climate change is happening. The current global average temperature is already about 0.7-0.8 degree Celsius above the pre-industrial level. Even if greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations had stabilized in the year 2000, temperatures are predicted to increase by 1.2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level by the end of the 21st century.

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Climate change "mitigation impossible" without transport

As the source of substantial and rapidly growing greenhouse gas emissions, transport must clearly be part of a global agreement to mitigate climate change.

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