Articles

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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Close up — Water in the city

We often take a reliable supply of clean water for granted. We turn on the tap and clean water comes out, we use it and the ‘dirty’ water goes down the drain. For a large majority of Europeans, the water we use at home is of drinking quality and available 24 hours a day. The brief moment between the tap and the drain is only a very small part of its overall journey. Managing water in a city is not limited to public water systems. Climate change, urban sprawl and alterations to river basins can all lead to more frequent and damaging floods in cities, leaving authorities faced with an ever-growing challenge.

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Close up — An ocean of plastics

Mass-produced plastics were introduced around the middle of the last century as a miracle material — light, mouldable, durable and strong. Since then, the production of plastics has increased rapidly, bringing many benefits to society. Now, some 70 years later, annual plastics production is more than 300 million tonnes, and we have begun to understand the true legacy of these products: they never fully ‘disappear’ from the environment.

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Investing for sustainability

The European Commission has recently adopted a package of legal proposals to boost sustainable finance in the European Union (EU). The Commission’s proposals build upon recommendations by the High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance, composed of experts from civil society, the finance sector, academia and European and international institutions. We spoke to the European Environment Agency’s (EEA) representative in the Expert Group, Andreas Barkman, who works on strategic advice on climate change and energy issues.

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Towards healthy and productive seas in Europe and beyond

Marine life, the global climate and our economy and social wellbeing all depend on healthy seas. Despite some improvements, our assessments show that the way we currently use Europe’s seas remains unsustainable. Climate change and competition for natural resources add extra pressures on the marine environment. European policies and measures could result in greater improvements when they are implemented through an ‘ecosystem-based management’ approach and are supported by a global ocean governance framework.

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Circular economy in Europe: we all have a role to play

To most people the idea of a circular economy remains an abstract if not far-off concept. While ‘going green’ is a growing popular theme around the world, many people are not yet aware of the greater changes to our way of living that will have to be made to ensure a sustainable future, and secure our long-term well-being.

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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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Green choices: policymakers, investors and consumers…

From walking and electric cars to massive freight vessels and high speed trains, a wide range of transport options exist. Many factors, including price, distance, availability of infrastructure and convenience, can play a role when selecting a transport mode. Car rides are the preferred mode for passenger transport in Europe. But even then, some options are cleaner than others. How can we opt for greener choices?

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Feeding the hungry city

Ingredients for the meals we eat at home or in restaurants come from near and afar. In an increasingly urbanised and globalised world, the food produced in the countryside needs to be transported to the city. Much focus has been put on reducing ‘food miles’, which can be a relevant but sometimes limited concept. A smarter and cleaner transport system would solve only part of the issue. A wider systemic analysis of the entire food system is in order.

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‘People-first’ for greener, liveable cities

Our cities are under pressure like never before from increasing populations, traffic gridlock and climate change. How can we make them easier to get around, more liveable and sustainable? One urban design firm is helping transform the way we plan cities. We talked to Helle Søholt, founding partner and CEO of Gehl Architects, Copenhagen, to find out.

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Environmental knowledge of the future

The European environmental data landscape has changed considerably over the last four decades. The complex nature of environmental degradation calls for more systemic analysis and relevant data to underpin it. In recent years, the European Environment Agency’s work has increasingly included systemic analyses. The EEA will continue to identify emerging issues and help expand Europe’s environmental knowledge.

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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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Green infrastructure: better living through nature-based solutions

Green infrastructure offers attractive solutions to environmental, social and economic issues, and as such needs to be fully integrated across different policy domains. As the EEA prepares to publish a report on the role of green infrastructure in mitigating the impacts of weather and climate change related natural hazards, we spoke to its lead author, Gorm Dige, project manager for territorial environment, policy and economic analysis.

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Climate change and cities

Most Europeans now live in cities, so the choices we make about urban infrastructure will have a large influence on how well we cope with climate change. More frequent rainfall, flooding, and heatwaves are likely to be among the challenges that Europe’s cities will face from climate change. We asked Holger Robrecht, Deputy Regional Director of ICLEI, what cities are doing to adapt to climate change.

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Environment, health and wellbeing: a systemic approach

The natural environment can benefit our health and quality of life, while environmental pollution has significant costs. Unfortunately, such links between environment, health and wellbeing are often ignored within science and policy. A new report highlights the importance of taking a broader, more systemic view.

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Preparing Europe’s cities for climate change impacts

Climate change is impacting and will continue to impact Europe. Are cities ready to face rising sea levels and temperatures and more extreme events like floods, droughts or heat waves? We asked this question to Birgit Georgi, working on regional vulnerability and climate change adaptation at the European Environment Agency.

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Turning change into transition

We live in a world of continuous change. How can we steer these on-going changes to achieve global sustainability by 2050? How can we strike a balance between the economy and the environment, the short-term and the long-term? The answer lies in how we manage the transition process without locking ourselves into unsustainable systems.

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Dublin tackles the health impacts of air pollution

Martin Fitzpatrick is a Principal Environmental Health Officer in the air quality monitoring and noise unit of Dublin City Council, Ireland. He is also the Dublin contact point for a pilot project run by the European Commission DG Environment and the EEA aimed at improving the implementation of air legislation. We asked him how Dublin tackles the health problems linked to poor air quality.

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Water in the city

Water in the city

28 Aug 2012

With population growth, urbanisation and economic development, the demand for freshwater in urban areas are increasing throughout Europe. At the same time, climate change and pollution are also affecting the availability of water for city residents. How can Europe's cities continue providing clean freshwater to their residents?

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Turning the urban challenge into an opportunity

Copenhagen, 2 July 2011. Up to 150 mm of rainfall in two hours – a city record since measurements began in the mid-1800s. Homes destroyed. Citizens and emergency services struggled to cope. This is one example of how excessive extreme weather events can affect a European capital – events that are expected more often under climate change.

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European Environment Agency (EEA)
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Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100