Driving to an electric future?

A quiet change is under way on European roads. The use of electric vehicles is projected to take off across Europe. It is a move that could help pave the way to a greener road transport system, but one that could pose challenges in meeting energy demand and investing in relevant infrastructure.

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Making clean renewable energy happen

Investing in clean energy must go hand in hand with energy efficiency and energy savings. Innovative solutions can fundamentally change the way we produce, store, transport and use energy. The transition from fossil fuels to renewable and clean energy might affect communities dependent on fossil fuels in the short run. With targeted policies and investments in new professional skills, clean energy can provide new economic opportunities.

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Global and local: secure and affordable energy

Energy is a commodity traded in global markets. Lack of access to affordable energy sources, disruptions in energy flows, high import dependency and wild fluctuations in prices are all seen as potential weaknesses, impacting the economy and, consequently, the economic and social wellbeing of the communities affected. Can boosting the renewable energy capacity across Europe and the world change the rules of global energy politics? How does the EU’s Energy Union contribute?

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Interview — Energy efficiency benefits us all

Potential gains from improving energy efficiency are substantial — not only in terms of saving energy and combating climate change, but also in terms of contributing to an array of other co-benefits, including improving human health and creating jobs. We asked Tim Farrell, Senior Advisor at the Copenhagen Centre on Energy Efficiency, what works best when it comes to boosting energy efficiency. He stressed that targeted policy measures and sufficient resources to support implementation and compliance are among a number of critical ingredients for success.

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Interview — Growing food or fuel on our land?

Only a decade ago, biofuel production from plants was hailed as an ecological alternative to fossil fuels. Recently, it has come to be seen as competing with food production and not always an effective solution in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases or air pollutants. We talked to Irini Maltsoglou, Natural Resources Officer at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), about biofuel production and agriculture and if and how it can be done sustainably.

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Energy in Europe — State of play

European countries consume less energy compared with 10 years ago, mainly due to energy efficiency gains. Europe also relies less on fossil fuels due to energy savings and the faster-than-expected uptake of renewable energy. In the decade 2005-2015, the share of renewables in the EU’s energy consumption nearly doubled, from 9 % to almost 17 %. Some sectors and countries are leading the way towards clean energy. Despite their declining share of the market, however, fossil fuels continue to be the dominant energy source in Europe.

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Energy and climate change

Mitigating and adapting to climate change are key challenges of the 21st century. At the core of these challenges is the question of energy — more precisely, our overall energy consumption and our dependence on fossil fuels. To succeed in limiting global warming, the world urgently needs to use energy efficiently while embracing clean energy sources to make things move, heat up and cool down. The European Union policies play an important role in facilitating this energy transition.

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Shaping the future of energy in Europe: Clean, smart and renewable

Our quality of life depends, among other things, on a reliable supply of energy at an affordable price. We use energy to heat and cool our homes, to cook and preserve our food, to travel and to build schools, hospitals and roads. We use machines to carry out numerous tasks, contributing to our wealth and wellbeing, and machines need energy. We still burn fossil fuels to obtain most of the energy we use. Moreover, we waste a substantial part of this energy before and during use.

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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 and investments

Measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change are often considered to be expensive, and are seen as an additional burden on the economy. But European countries are already spending public and private funds on research, infrastructure, agriculture, energy, transport, urban development, social protection, health, and nature conservation. We can ensure that our existing expenditure on these areas favours climate-friendly and sustainable options that will help to create new jobs.

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Soil and climate change

Soil is an important — and often neglected — element of the climate system. It is the second largest carbon store, or ‘sink’, after the oceans. Depending on the region, climate change might result in more carbon being stored in plants and soil due to vegetation growth, or more carbon being released into the atmosphere. Restoring key ecosystems on land, and a sustainable use of the land in urban and rural areas, can help us mitigate and adapt to climate change.

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Mitigating climate change

2014 was the hottest year on record. It was also one more year in series of increasingly warm decades. To limit global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels and minimise the impacts of climate change, greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere need to be reduced substantially. Governments can set targets, but it is ultimately up to industry, businesses, local authorities, and households to take action. This action must aim to ensure that emissions are reduced, atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations stabilised, temperature rises halted, and climate change limited.

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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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Every breath we take

Every breath we take

15 Apr 2013

We breathe from the moment we are born until the moment we die. It is a vital and constant need, not only for us but for all life on Earth. Poor air quality affects us all: it harms our health and the health of the environment, which leads to economic losses. But what does the air we breathe consist of and where do the various air pollutants come from?

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European Environment Agency (EEA)
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