A new report has said that Europe has made huge gains on environmental policy, but now needs to take bolder steps.
The European Environment Agency (EEA) has published its five-year assessment The European environment – state and outlook 2015 that says while progress has been made to ensure Europeans enjoy cleaner air and water, less waste is sent to landfill and more resources are recycled, Europe remains a long way of achieving its objective of living within the means of the planet by 2050. This was set out in the 7th Environmental Action Programme.
In the report, it is shown that although Europeans are using natural resources more efficiently than previously, we are still degrading the resource base that we rely on in Europe and across the world.
The agency is part of the European Union and exists to provide independent information on the environment.
EEA executive director Hans Bruyninckx said: “Our analysis shows that European policies have successfully tackled many environmental challenges over the years. But it also shows that we continue to harm the natural systems that sustain our prosperity.
“While living within planetary limits is an immense challenge, there are huge benefits in responding to it. Fully using Europe’s capacity to innovate could make us truly sustainable and put us at the frontier of science and technology, creating new industries and a healthier society.”
On resource efficiency, the report shows that domestic resource consumption was 16.7 tonnes per person in 2007, declining to 13.7 tonnes in 2012, partly due to the collapse of the construction industry in some countries.
Waste management has improved in recent years with less waste generated and less waste sent to landfill.
Recycling rates increased in 21 countries, the report shows, between 2004 and 2012, while landfilling rates decreased in 27 out of 31 countries.
EEA countries achieved an average recycling rate of 29% in 2012, compared to 22% in 2004.
View the full report here