Europe seeks to turn environmental challenges into opportunities

The European Commission has launched a consultation to look at ways of turning environmental challenges into opportunities for industry.

The public consultation on Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy will run until September 23 and is seeking input from anyone who has ideas on how to put European industry on a path which can be sustained indefinitely without depleting natural resources.

Current patterns of consumption and production are leading to the rapid depletion or exhaustion of certain natural resources, such as oil reserves and fish stocks, as well as causing serious environmental degradation and pollution.

The issue is a global one, says the EC, with several studies suggesting that the current pattern already significantly exceeds what the planet can support in the long term.

The Commission aims to address these problems and turn environmental challenges into economic opportunities for EU industry, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving efficiency in use of energy and natural resources.

By developing robust sustainable consumption and production policies, the EU can make an important contribution to sustainability worldwide since Europe is one of the biggest consumers at global level and products are traded globally.

Europe also hopes to continue in its self appointed role of environmental pioneer, saying the standards it adopts will tend to become global benchmarks.

The actions under consideration have a strong focus on products as recent Commission research confirms that a large proportion of environmental impacts in the EU are caused by consumer products from production line to disposal, including the extraction of the raw materials used right through to the production, transportation, consumption and final disposal of the product.

David Gibbs



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