Energy & Environment

Energy 29-05-2017

Building efficiency: Waking up the sleeping giant

Cutting wasteful energy use in buildings is at the centre of EU efforts to decarbonise its economy and reduce dependence on fossil fuel imports. However, there is still vast untapped potential in modernising heating, cooling and ventilation equipment known as technical building systems, research has shown.

Climate change 26-10-2015

Cities, regions and climate change

Cities and regions are leading the fight against global warming, calling for the EU to be zero carbon by 2050, as world leaders prepare for the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) in November.

Energy 11-05-2015

The energy conundrum in Bulgaria and Greece

Bulgaria and Greece are hard nuts to crack when it comes to implementing EU energy legislation and integrating with the wider European energy market. These two countries illustrate the difficulties of building an Energy Union.

Energy 12-11-2014

Europe’s re-industrialisation agenda: A green policy U-turn?

European leaders are in broad agreement over the need to relaunch manufacturing industries. But walking the talk implies trade-offs and a possible u-turn – on climate, and energy policies, in particular – that some warn could put future growth at risk.

A combine harvester at work

Air pollution rules for ‘non-road mobile machinery’

Noxious emissions from everyday cars and trucks have long been regulated at European level. But the European Commission believes pollution from so-called non-road mobile machinery – which includes everything from bulldozers to chainsaws – is a problem and is proposing new emission limits on them.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

When science meets politics: the EU’s impact assessment review

The European Commission is reviewing its impact assessment guidelines amid accusations that science is becoming increasingly politicised and scientists manipulated by policymakers and powerful interest groups.

Endocrine disruptors: Harmful or not?

Rising levels of cancers and fertility problems have attracted scientists’ attention to endocrine disrupting chemicals, with some calling for strict regulation of the substances, in line with the precautionary principle. Others meanwhile, stress the worthiness of those chemicals in everyday products such as plastics and warn that the foundations of science risk being turned upside down if precautionary measures are taken.

Agrifood 04-07-2013

CAP 2014-2020: A long road to reform

Politicians approved in June 2013 an agreement on the first large reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in a decade, after months of haggling over how ambitious to make the policy on overhauling direct payments, ending quotas, and making farmers more environmentally accountable. The long road to a deal means that many policies will not come into force before 2015.

Development Policy 08-03-2013

Agenda for Change: EU’s helping hand gets an overhaul

Europe’s new overseas aid policy, the Agenda for Change, calls for giving the world’s most fragile nations more help through what Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs calls “more strategic, targeted and results-oriented” assistance. But some anti-poverty campaigners say there is a risk that the agenda could end up neglecting impoverished people in emerging and middle-income nations.

Energy Efficiency Directive: Completing an energy policy puzzle

The European Union put down the last piece of the bloc's 2020 climate and energy policy puzzle by adopting an Energy Efficiency Directive. The directive is a game-changer for energy companies, which are now required to achieve 1.5% energy savings every year among their final clients. The EU law is also expected to trigger the largest revamp of Europe's existing building stock to date and set new standards for public procurement and energy audits.

Digital 24-09-2012

Greening ICT

Investments in information and communication technologies (ICT) are set to double by 2020 across the European Union, to match consumers' ever-growing hunger for online services. But this also comes at a cost for the environment in terms of electricity consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. The European Commission is now openly asking itself whether the industry should be regulated.

Transport 24-09-2012

Europe’s rails: A bumpy ride to a single market

Two decades into the European single market, getting people or goods from one part of the European Union to another on trains remains a challenge – despite rail's potential in reducing traffic pollution and congestion. The European Commission is considering new ways to reach the end station of a common railway market.

Health 16-08-2012

Changing consumer behaviour to sustainability

Concerns about the sustainability of natural resources are rising, prompting policymakers and companies to encourage consumers to think green. Labelling is one way of doing this, but consumer groups advise against confronting shoppers with too much information and warn that green claims aren't always independently verified.

Energy 02-06-2012

Cutting energy use in Europe’s old building stock: Mission impossible?

Buildings account for over 40% of the EU's final energy demand and are a major source of greenhouse-gas emissions, making energy savings there a key element of European climate change objectives. However, it remains to be seen whether Europeans will be able to tap into the area with the single biggest potential the existing building stock.

REACH chemical safety review: Re-opening a can of worms?

Five years after its adoption, the European Commission is preparing to review the controversial REACH regulation, which for the first time required chemical manufacturers to justify that their products are safe for consumers before placing them on the market.

Energy 22-12-2011

Smart grids: Making connections

EU plans to move towards a low-carbon economy depend upon a transformed cross-border transmissions system that can integrate renewables and smart meters alike, offering energy consumption savings at source. But is Europe on track to meet the challenge?

Climate change 28-09-2011

Offsetting carbon: The UN’s Joint Implementation scheme (JI)

As part of the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations developed a market-based mechanism called Joint Implementation (JI) which allows rich nations to obtain credits for carbon reduction projects in "transition" economies such as Russia, Ukraine and the EU's former communist states. But the system is complex to manage and has yielded little results so far, raising questions about its continuation after Kyoto expires.

Agrifood 09-09-2011

Fertilisers: Feeding agriculture’s growing needs

World fertiliser production is expected to soar to keep up with rising food and biofuel output, but this also triggers environmental problems as fertiliser sucks up energy and trigger water and soil pollution.

Regional Policy 19-08-2011

Efficient energy: Making savings at source

European efforts to increase energy efficiency have so far primarily focused on measures to improve end-use efficiency, and the potential to reduce huge losses that occur in the production and delivery of power have largely been ignored.

Agrifood 22-07-2011

Intensive farming: Ecologically sustainable?

As demand for food rises along with the world's population, policymakers are looking at ways of intensifying crop production while reducing the negative impact of farming on the environment.

Health 13-07-2011

Consumer empowerment: Helping shoppers to buy green [Archived]

As pressure mounts to lead sustainable lifestyles, policymakers and companies alike are mulling new ways of encouraging shoppers to buy green. But consumer groups warned against confronting shoppers with too much information and warned that companies' green claims are often not independently verified. 

Keeping cool with refrigerants: The F-gas review

Fluorinated gases power the world's refrigerants and air conditioning systems, and make up around 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions. But if business continues as usual, by 2050 they could be responsible for between 9%-19% of global emissions, prompting EU policymakers to take action to contain leakage or even ban their use.

Health 08-07-2011

Eating green? Food, drinks and the environment [Archived]

Food multinationals are showing increasing interest in measuring their water and carbon footprint but the proliferation of green claims often leaves consumers wondering about sustainable food choices.

Climate change 15-06-2011

Behind closed doors: Air quality in buildings

Restrictions on tobacco smoke and the Asbestos scandal have put indoor air quality under the spotlight in the recent past, resulting in tough policies to stop damage to human health. While tobacco continues to be the biggest health culprit, nowadays attention is also turning to "chemical cocktails," toxic fumes from heating and cooking, and damp and mould caused by poor ventilation.