EU Ministers reach general consensus on future of green Europe

EU Environment Ministers have this week highlighted the growth opportunities that could arise from a successful transition to a low carbon, climate resilient and resource efficient economy.

During an informal two day meeting at Dublin Castle, Ministers focused on developing the single market for green products and services, based on a recent Communication from the European Commission.

Entitled, Building the Single Market for Green Products in a Resource Efficient Europe, the communication is designed to address information deficits among European consumers, after a recent eurobarometer survey found that 48% of European consumers are confused by the stream of environmental information that they receive.

Irish Environment Minister Philip Hogan said: “Today, Ministers have broadly welcomed the concepts outlined in the Commission’s proposal to pilot test a new methodology that will make it simpler for consumers and business to understand environmental labelling and information, thereby stimulating the demand for green products and services.”

Ministers also agreed that sustainability could only be achieved if the EU decoupled its existing unsustainable patterns of resource use in the developed world, while also supporting developing countries in eradicating poverty and transitioning to resource efficient growth.

The Environment Ministers were joined by Energy Ministers for an initial exchange of political views on the EU Green Paper – A 2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policies. Central to the discussion was the critical importance of underpinning the innovation and investment necessary to ensure early and cost-effective transition to a competitive, low-carbon and energy secure EU economy in 2050.

Ministers also debated the issue of air quality and the urban environment following last week’s Air Science Policy Forum in Dublin and the presentation by Commissioner Potočnik on the Commission’s outline plans for the review of the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution.

Hogan acknowledged the progress made in improving air quality across Europe in recent decades but highlighted the need for further progress in combating certain pollutants, which can have significant impacts on human health and the environment even at levels below current EU thresholds.

“Listening to some of the views and experiences shared, I was struck in particular by the various challenges that we each face, in respect of geographic diversity, proximity to major urban areas and potential sources of air pollution,” he said.

Conor McGlone

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