Sustainable Development

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 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
12-09-2014

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.

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.

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.

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. 

13-07-2011

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.

Trade & Society 26-04-2011

What goes around comes around: Recycling and climate change

Recycling has become a central part of the EU's climate change strategy by helping the bloc to tackle the nearly three billion tonnes of waste produced by Europe annually, much of which enters the atmosphere in the form of CO2 and methane emissions from landfill sites and incineration plants.

24-02-2011

Rio+20: Dancing to the tune of the green economy

The Rio Earth Summit in May 2012 will try to set a global vision on greening the economy, with France leading European calls to establish a brand new World Environmental Organisation (WEO).

15-12-2010

Water efficiency: Saving the blue gold

The European Commission is planning measures to rein in water use, with a particular focus on savings in agriculture, buildings and industrial processes.

01-12-2010

Services of General Interest in the EU

Water, energy, health, telecoms and transport are among the most widely-known examples of services that public authorities consider of general interest and subject to specific public service obligations. 

Health 07-10-2010

Consumers: Buying green?

Environmentally-friendly goods are often overpriced for many consumers – and as the economic crisis continues to bite, policymakers are mulling tax incentives to make green shopping more affordable.

Greening air travel

Amid steady growth in air traffic and related polluting emissions, the aerospace industry is rolling up its sleeves to ensure that the sector grows in a carbon-neutral manner as of 2020.

18-01-2010

Raw materials: Heading for a global resource crunch?

With the world's population growing and industrialisation rising, competition for raw materials is intensifying, raising concerns about access to key natural resources for European industry.

11-12-2009

Towards a global life-cycle economy?

Assessing the environmental impact of products throughout their whole lifecycle - from raw material extraction to transport, consumption and final disposal - is being touted as the new mantra in environmental policymaking and sustainable business decision-making.

30-06-2009

Towards a recycling society

An EU strategy on preventing and recycling waste aims to pave the way towards a recycling society by decoupling economic growth from natural resource use. But questions remain over whether the issue should be dealt with at national or European level, and on how to reconcile the EU's ecological and internal market objectives in the long run.