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Cleaner air for Europe: EU efforts to fight air pollution

23-06-2017

Air pollution knows no borders. Wind can carry pollutants over thousands of kilometres. Poor air quality impacts negatively on human health, ecosystems, crop yields and buildings. It is one of the main environmental causes of premature death, having claimed 5.5 million lives globally and over 430 000 in the EU in 2013. The European Commission estimates the cost of air pollution linked to the degradation of health in European society to amount to €330 billion to €940 billion per year. Developed since ...

Air pollution knows no borders. Wind can carry pollutants over thousands of kilometres. Poor air quality impacts negatively on human health, ecosystems, crop yields and buildings. It is one of the main environmental causes of premature death, having claimed 5.5 million lives globally and over 430 000 in the EU in 2013. The European Commission estimates the cost of air pollution linked to the degradation of health in European society to amount to €330 billion to €940 billion per year. Developed since 1970 in the wake of acid rain fall that had been destroying European forests and polluting freshwaters, EU air quality policy, in combination with technological change, has contributed to reducing air pollution substantially.

Environmental implementation review: Initial findings

22-03-2017

The environmental implementation review (EIR), launched by the European Commission in 2016, aims at providing an overview of how well Member States are implementing EU environmental law, and at supporting them if necessary. The review consists of three parts: 28 country reports, a Commission summary of the most common problems, and suggestions for improvement. The review’s first edition was published in February 2017. It reveals implementation gaps, in particular, regarding waste management, nature ...

The environmental implementation review (EIR), launched by the European Commission in 2016, aims at providing an overview of how well Member States are implementing EU environmental law, and at supporting them if necessary. The review consists of three parts: 28 country reports, a Commission summary of the most common problems, and suggestions for improvement. The review’s first edition was published in February 2017. It reveals implementation gaps, in particular, regarding waste management, nature and biodiversity protection, air and water quality, as well as tackling noise pollution. It also examines governance issues related to implementation gaps, including effectiveness of administration, compliance assurance as well as access to justice and information. The review identifies structural problems and governance weaknesses, as well as insufficient coordination and integration, as possible reasons for inadequate implementation of environmental law. Another important issue is a lack of available data. The briefing also contains a short description of the OECD environmental review and the European quality of government index.

Environmental Implementation Review

31-01-2017

Launched by the European Commission in 2016, the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) is aimed at providing an overview of how well Member States are implementing EU environmental law and at helping them if they are struggling. The Commission says that insufficient and uneven implementation causes damage to the environment and human health, and entails high costs. The EIR is a response to calls from the European Parliament and others to improve the situation and better integrate environmental ...

Launched by the European Commission in 2016, the Environmental Implementation Review (EIR) is aimed at providing an overview of how well Member States are implementing EU environmental law and at helping them if they are struggling. The Commission says that insufficient and uneven implementation causes damage to the environment and human health, and entails high costs. The EIR is a response to calls from the European Parliament and others to improve the situation and better integrate environmental law into other policy areas.

Post-2020 reform of the EU Emissions Trading System

28-10-2016

In July 2015, the European Commission proposed a reform of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) for the period 2021-2030, following the guidance set by the October 2014 European Council. The proposed directive introduces a new limit on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the ETS sector to achieve the EU climate targets for 2030, new rules for addressing carbon leakage, and provisions for funding innovation and modernisation in the energy sector. It encourages Member States to compensate for indirect ...

In July 2015, the European Commission proposed a reform of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) for the period 2021-2030, following the guidance set by the October 2014 European Council. The proposed directive introduces a new limit on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the ETS sector to achieve the EU climate targets for 2030, new rules for addressing carbon leakage, and provisions for funding innovation and modernisation in the energy sector. It encourages Member States to compensate for indirect carbon costs. In combination with the Market Stability Reserve agreed in May 2015, the proposed reform sets out the EU ETS rules for the period up to 2030, giving greater certainty to industry and to investors. In the European Parliament, the ENVI Committee takes the lead on the proposal, while it shares competence with the ITRE Committee on some aspects. The ITRE Committee adopted its opinion on 13 October 2016; the vote in the ENVI Committee is expected in December. This briefing updates an earlier edition, of June 2016: PE 583.851. A more recent edition of this document is available. Find it by searching by the document title at this address: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/home.html

The EU and the Aarhus Convention: Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters

17-06-2016

This briefing, commissioned by the Policy Department on Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs for the PETI committee, focuses on the Aarhus Convention, applicable to the EU and to all Member States. The Convention provides for rights to the public to access to information, participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters. The Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee has found several EU Member States as well as the EU itself non-compliant with the Convention. Currently ...

This briefing, commissioned by the Policy Department on Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs for the PETI committee, focuses on the Aarhus Convention, applicable to the EU and to all Member States. The Convention provides for rights to the public to access to information, participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters. The Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee has found several EU Member States as well as the EU itself non-compliant with the Convention. Currently eight EU Member States and the EU are on the list of non-compliant Parties, decided by the Meeting of Parties when endorsing Committee findings. The Committee follows up and reports on whether these Parties are taking sufficient measures to get in compliance. Adequate implementation by EU legislation, monitoring by the Commission and jurisprudence by the EU judiciary are important for effective enjoyment of the Aarhus Convention rights by the public throughout the EU.

Ulkopuolinen laatija

Jonas Ebbesson (Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee)

US Supreme Court puts Clean Power Plan on hold

26-02-2016

In August 2015, the Obama administration promulgated a landmark regulation known as the Clean Power Plan (CPP), to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from fossil-fuelled power plants. Soon after the publication of the CPP in the Federal Register, state and industry petitioners contended that the administration had exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA), violated the historic and legal authority of the states, and imposed unmanageable restructuring of the power sector. In February ...

In August 2015, the Obama administration promulgated a landmark regulation known as the Clean Power Plan (CPP), to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from fossil-fuelled power plants. Soon after the publication of the CPP in the Federal Register, state and industry petitioners contended that the administration had exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA), violated the historic and legal authority of the states, and imposed unmanageable restructuring of the power sector. In February 2016, the US Supreme Court – the highest US court with unique authority over constitutional and federal affairs – temporarily suspended President Barack Obama's landmark carbon-emissions regulation for existing stationary sources.

Invasive alien species: List of species of Union concern

15-12-2015

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), invasive alien species (IAS) are the second most significant threat to biodiversity after habitat loss. They are also capable of causing significant damage to human health and to the economy. The cost of controlling invasive alien species and repairing the harm they do in the EU is estimated at €12 billion annually. To tackle this cross-border issue, an EU Regulation on IAS was adopted in 2014 and entered into force in January ...

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), invasive alien species (IAS) are the second most significant threat to biodiversity after habitat loss. They are also capable of causing significant damage to human health and to the economy. The cost of controlling invasive alien species and repairing the harm they do in the EU is estimated at €12 billion annually. To tackle this cross-border issue, an EU Regulation on IAS was adopted in 2014 and entered into force in January 2015. The European Commission had to submit to Member States' representatives a list of 'invasive alien species of Union concern' by January 2016, as an EU wide containment measure. Under the Regulation, the list of IAS of Union concern will contain only species that are scientifically proven to be particularly harmful and that can be addressed in a cost-efficient manner. The compilation of the list is not a one-off exercise, but is intended as an ongoing process. NGOs and the European Parliament have criticised the draft list for being too short and for not including some species which they consider are particularly widespread and harmful to ecosystems.

Water legislation: Cost of Non-Europe Report

20-05-2015

This ‘Cost of Non-Europe’ report examines the state of implementation of current EU Water Legislation and identifies the cost of the lack of further European action in this field. The assessment made of existing water legislation confirms that there are still implementation gaps and areas of poor performance. The examination of five case studies, where it was believed that a significant potential exists for further EU action, served to demonstrate that there are several barriers which hinder the ...

This ‘Cost of Non-Europe’ report examines the state of implementation of current EU Water Legislation and identifies the cost of the lack of further European action in this field. The assessment made of existing water legislation confirms that there are still implementation gaps and areas of poor performance. The examination of five case studies, where it was believed that a significant potential exists for further EU action, served to demonstrate that there are several barriers which hinder the achievement of the goals set in the legislation. More European action would accordingly be necessary to limit the impact on Europe's water quality of flooding or of pharmaceutical residues. To limit the use of fresh water more generally, there is a need for European coordination to increase the use of water-efficient equipment and water-metering.  This research makes a cautious estimate that the benefits of full implementation of existing legislation could reach 2.8 billion euro per year. The study also demonstrates that further European action in this field could provide further added value, representing a ‘cost of non-Europe’ of some 25 billion euro per year.

Safeguarding biological diversity: EU policy and international agreements

01-04-2015

Biodiversity, the diversity of life on earth at all levels, is declining, mainly as a result of human-induced pressures such as over-exploitation of natural resources, loss of viable habitats, pollution, climate change or invasive alien species. EU biodiversity policy is based on the Birds and Habitats Directives, which served as the basis for the development of the Natura 2000 network of protected sites now covering 1 million square kilometres on land (or 18% of EU land area) and 250 000 square ...

Biodiversity, the diversity of life on earth at all levels, is declining, mainly as a result of human-induced pressures such as over-exploitation of natural resources, loss of viable habitats, pollution, climate change or invasive alien species. EU biodiversity policy is based on the Birds and Habitats Directives, which served as the basis for the development of the Natura 2000 network of protected sites now covering 1 million square kilometres on land (or 18% of EU land area) and 250 000 square kilometres of marine sites. The policy is driven by the biodiversity strategy setting ambitious aims for 2020 (halting the loss of biodiversity) and 2050 (protecting and valuing biodiversity and ecosystem services), with the addition of a strategy on green infrastructure. The European Commission estimates that the Natura 2000 network delivers benefits worth between €200 and €300 billion per year, against management costs estimated at €5.8 billion per year. The LIFE Programme co-finances some measures related to biodiversity, especially as regards Natura 2000. Funding aimed at protecting biodiversity is also available under the agricultural, regional, fisheries, and research policies. The European Parliament has long been supportive of EU biodiversity protection policy. Developments in EU biodiversity policy include a process of 'biodiversity proofing' of the EU budget, improved monitoring, definition of priorities for the restoration of degraded ecosystems, 'biodiversity offsetting' of unavoidable residual impacts, and a 'fitness check' of EU nature legislation.

The United States Environmental Policy

16-03-2015

This document reviews and updates the previous 2013 report providing an overview of the environmental policy and regulation in the United States. It describes the role and the functions of the different authorities with environmental competencies and the most relevant legislative acts. It was provided by Policy Department A for the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) in view of the ENVI delegation to Washington from 16-19 March 2015.

This document reviews and updates the previous 2013 report providing an overview of the environmental policy and regulation in the United States. It describes the role and the functions of the different authorities with environmental competencies and the most relevant legislative acts. It was provided by Policy Department A for the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) in view of the ENVI delegation to Washington from 16-19 March 2015.

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