Butterflies or business - Europe can have both!

Recently the
European Environment Agency (EEA) released its fourth Environment
State and Outlook report - SOER 2010 - a comprehensive assessment
of how and why Europe’s environment is changing, and what is being
done about it. 

SOER 2010 concludes that a fully integrated approach to
transforming Europe to a resource-efficient green economy can not
only result in a healthy environment, but also boost prosperity and
social cohesion.

Thetitle=”The European environment - state and outlook 2010”
class=”internal-link”>EEA’s new assessment
that global demands for natural resources to feed, clothe, house
and transport people are accelerating. These mounting demands on
natural capital are exerting increased pressure to ecosystems,
economies and social cohesion in Europe and elsewhere.

However, SOER 2010 confirms that well-designed environmental
policies continue to improve Europe’s environment without
undermining Europe’s growth potential.

‘We are consuming more natural resources than is ecologically
stable. This is true for both Europe and the planet as a whole.
Climate change is the most visible sign of instability so far, but
a range of global trends suggest greater systemic risks to
ecosystems in future. The nature of the current financial crisis
should give us pause for thought.’ said Prof. Jacqueline McGlade,
Executive Director of EEA.

A complete shift to a resource-efficient
green economy requires that all environmental resources -
biodiversity, land, carbon, rivers, the seas and the air we breathe
- are fully considered in production, consumption and global trade

‘There are no quick fixes but regulators, businesses and
citizens need to work together and find innovative ways to use
resources more efficiently. The seeds for future action exist: the
task ahead is to help them take root and flourish,’ concludes

SOER 2010 also highlights a greater understanding of the links
between climate change, biodiversity, resource use and people’s
health - and how tools like spatial planning, ecological tax
reform, pollution prevention, precaution and resource accounting
can underpin a natural capital-based approach to their

Key Findings

  • Climate change: The European Union has made
    progress in cutting emissions and expanding renewable energy. The
    EU-27’s 2009 emissions stand 17 % below the 1990 level and
    therefore very close to the bloc’s target of cutting emissions 20 %
    by 2020. However, sectoral trends are not all positive. EU-27
    emissions from transport rose by 24% between 1990 and 2008.

  • Climate change adaptation: Even if Europe
    meets all its emission reduction targets and world leaders agree on
    bold measures during the climate talks currently taking place in
    Cancun, Mexico, Europe will still need to adapt to ongoing and
    expected climate change impacts. Dedicated management of natural
    capital can help deal with these challenges.

  •  Biodiversity, ecosystems and people’s
    The Natura 2000 network of protected areas, which
    now covers around 18 % of EU land, has helped protect endangered
    species and preserve green spaces for leisure. Air and water
    quality legislation has reduced pressure on biodiversity and
    people. On the other hand, intensification of land use, loss of
    habitats and overfishing prevented the EU from meeting its target
    of halting biodiversity loss by 2010.

  • Integrated solutions with a global
    By showing the many links between different
    challenges, environmental and others, SOER2010 encourages us to
    increase integrated actions across different policy areas dealing
    with these challenges, so as to deliver improvements quicker and
    maximise co-benefits (e.g. mitigate climate change and improve air
    quality at the same time).

  • Resource efficiency: Food, energy and water
    security are key drivers of land use as often conflicting demands
    increase (e.g. for food, feed and fuel). Accounting and pricing
    that takes full account of resource use impacts are essential for
    steering business and consumers towards enhanced resource

  • Citizen involvement: Policy alone cannot halt
    or reverse environmental trends. We need to increase the number of
    citizens committed to reducing their impact on the environment by
    involving them in collecting data and through social media.

SOER is the EEA’s flagship report published every five years,
aimed at providing information on the state of, trends in and
prospects for Europe’s environment, including causes, impacts and
potential responses.

SOER 2010 consists of four key elements: (i) href=”http://www.eea.europa.eu/soer/europe” target=”_blank”
title=”Europe’s environment”>thematic assessments
on key environmental issues (climate change, biodiversity, land
use, air pollution, marine environment, consumption, etc.) each
accompanied by relevant facts and trends, (ii) an href=”http://www.eea.europa.eu/soer/europe-and-the-world”
target=”_blank” title=”Europe and the world”>assessment of
global megatrends
relevant for Europe’s environment,
(iii) target=”_blank” title=”Country assessments”>country
, and (iv) an integrated href=”http://www.eea.europa.eu/soer/synthesis/synthesis”
title=”The european environment - State and outlook 2010: synthesis”>
synthesis report.

All SOER assessments can be accessed online at href=”http://www.eea.europa.eu/soer”

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