Article by Elena Simidzioski
Environmental damage is one of the biggest challenges humanity faces at present. Consequences thereof include climate change which results in increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, rising sea levels, droughts, and heatwaves among many others (NASA). Likewise, environmental damage can be seen in problems such as global warming, loss of biodiversity, and water scarcity. To address all of the above, governments and businesses around the world are in constant quest to make their economies greener and environmentally friendly. One such key player is the EU whose efforts to reach climate goals are outlined in the following:
EU invests €121 million in environmental projects
To deliver its climate goals, the EU has invested €121 million towards climate projects in 11 member states as part of its LIFE programme (European Commission, 2021). The projects are mainly focused at improving the environment in a long-term and sustainable way. Thus, these include alleviation of and adaptation to climate change, preservation of nature, protected areas, and biodiversity, and the management of waste among others (European Commission, 2021).
Recovery of biodiversity by 2030
The issue of loss of biodiversity is another component that affects the climate problem, just as the general well being of society due to increased spread of infectious diseases, food shortages and fires (European Commission, 2021). As such, the EU has set up a plan to start biodiversity recovery by 2030 (European Commission, 2021). The plan includes several actions: (1) increasing the amount of protected land and sea areas with valuable biodiversity; (2) establishing plans for restoration of ecosystems by addressing the key factors causing biodiversity loss; (3) increased investments towards tackling the issue and improving the governance and implementation of respective policies; (4) establishing a framework of biodiversity goals (European Commission, 2021).
Tackling climate change for societal welfare
The impact of environmental problems is not only felt by our planet, but by society as well. This can be seen in that climate change contributes to increasing levels of poverty and food shortages, just as air and water pollution which directly affects the health of society (European Commission, 2020). Even the current COVID-19 pandemic is by some researchers assumed to be a consequence of environmental damage (European Commission, 2020). Hence, the EU aims to deliver better policy implementation and ensure a healthy environment by increasing the amount of green and blue spaces, especially in urban areas (European Commission, 2020). For instance, green aids air pollution, but also lessens the severity ofe heatwaves and serves as an outdoor space where people can engage in physical activity (European Commission, 2020).
In essence, the environment is a multiplex problem which has consequences for several aspects, such as economical, societal, or ecological ones. This implies that the issue can only be fully addressed by improvements in all of these sectors. Besides the aforementioned climate actions, the EU aims to direct travel, by promoting more sustainable travel options such as trains (Papadakis, 2021). Similarly, it accelerates its transition from conventional towards greener and renewable sources of energy (O’Neill, 2021), and invests in the creation of green homes (Sanchez, 2021). Yet, the achievement of all policies require significant degrees of dedication and cooperation between states, which often can be impeded by national interests and pressures from domestic stakeholders, such as oil companies. It thus remains a challenge for the EU to bring about long-term cooperation from national governments if significant progress on the climate issue is to be made.
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European Commission. (2021, February 17). LIFE Programme: The EU invests €121 million in environment, nature and climate action projects.
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Papadakis, D. (2021, June, 14). New Environment Action Programme: The direction of travel. The Parliament Magazine.
Sanchez, G. (2021, June, 29). Green homes: Resource sufficiency is key to achieving climate neutrality. Euractiv.