According to the European Environment Agency’s (EEA) updated environmental indicator report published today, the European Union continues to fall short of achieving a number of environmental objectives by 2020, especially in areas aimed at protecting biodiversity and natural capital. When it comes to ‘boosting sustainable, resource-efficient, low-carbon economy’, trends and outlooks cause more concern compared to the assessment from last year, while progress in addressing environment-related threats to health remains rather mixed.
The annual EEA Environmental Indicator Report 2018 provides an updated scoreboard that monitors progress in 29 selected environmental objectives that are relevant to achieving the three key priority objectives under the that address: natural capital (including biodiversity); sustainable, resource efficient, low-carbon economy; and people’s health and well-being. The scoreboard paints a bleak picture for progress in improving the EU’s natural capital. The overall progress is mixed for the other two priority objectives.
Compared to last year’s, this year’s scoreboard revised downwards the prospects of meeting three more objectives, important to the achievement of the 7th EAP priority objective that addresses sustainable, resource efficient low carbon growth. The outlooks for meeting the EU’s 2020 energy efficiency target and reducing the overall environmental impact of the housing sector by 2020 were revised from ‘likely’ to ‘uncertain’. Increases in the overall energy consumption and in the household sector were the main cause. The outlook for reducing the environmental impact of the mobility sector was also revised to ‘unlikely’ as greenhouse gas emissions from transport increased.
The report notes that for a number of indicators across the three 7th priority objectives the positive past trends seen in the scoreboard were mainly because of the low economic activity right after the 2008 financial crisis and that in several cases progress has slowed in recent years due to increased economic growth.
‘The ‘grow now, clean up later’ economic model that dominates our world and which does not account for climate change, pollution or the degradation of our natural capital is unsustainable. Europe needs to urgently step up efforts to transform its key systems of production and consumption towards sustainability.’ said Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director.