The European Union runs the risk of failing to meet its long-term climate and energy goals, set for 2030 and 2050 despite the “achievements” made over the past 20 years, according to a report published Wednesday by the European Environment Agency (EEA), in which the agency urges European governments to act to prevent the damage from becoming “irreversible”.
The document highlights that the bloc has made “significant progress” in the last two decades, especially in terms of climate change mitigation. It also sees “clear signs of progress” in areas such as reducing water and air pollution or introducing policies to use less plastic and to boost the circular economy.
At the same time, however, it criticises the “slowdown” in areas such as the reduction of greenhouse gases, industrial emissions, the generation of waste, the improvement of energy efficiency and renewable energies.
“Future prospects indicate that the current rate of progress will not be sufficient to meet the climate and energy targets for 2030 and 2050”, warns the EEA report, in which the institution also points out that “general environmental trends in Europe have not improved” since the previous version of the text, published in 2015.
It stresses that, despite the achievements of recent years, the EU “will not achieve a sustainable future of prosperity within the limits of the vision if it continues to foster economic growth and seeks to manage social and environmental impacts”.
For this reason, it urges European countries and their political leaders to “take advantage of the next decade to radically expand and accelerate actions” with the aim of “avoiding irreversible damage” to the environment.
“The assessment shows that although most of the 2020 targets will not be met, there is still an opportunity to achieve the long-term goals for 2030 and 2050,” says the European Environment Agency.
The institution emphasises the protection and conservation of nature and biodiversity, the main area in which progress is “less encouraging”. In particular, it expects the EU to meet only two of the thirteen policy objectives set for 2020 under this chapter: the designation of marine and terrestrial protected areas.
As a result, the EAS warns that the state of nature will “worsen” and the pollution of air, water and soil “will continue to increase” until 2030 if “current trends are not reversed”.
In view of this, the agency recommends better implementation and coordination of current policies, as well as encouraging actions that “bring about a change in key production and consumption systems” that underpin the modern lifestyle, which has “a significant environmental impact”.
“We have a small opportunity in the next decade to scale up measures to protect nature, mitigate the impacts of climate change and radically reduce the consumption of natural resources,” said EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx.