Sustainable Development Archives

  • Financing the low-carbon economy

    08-01-2009

    Political objectives to reduce CO2 emissions and transform the energy system are set to shape the EU's industrial and economic development in the coming decades, but the 'third industrial revolution' has been challenged by a financing squeeze as the world grapples with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

  • Energy and climate change: Towards an integrated EU policy

    Special Report | Science & Policymaking 08-01-2009

    At a landmark summit in December 2008, EU leaders reached agreement over an energy and climate change 'package' to deliver the bloc's ambitious objectives of slashing greenhouse-gas emissions and boosting renewable energies by 20% by 2020. The package is designed to reduce the Union's dependency on imported fuels and set the pace of "a new global industrial revolution".

  • Water, Business and Sustainability

    Special Report 01-12-2008

    With water supplies under growing strain due to intensive use and climate change, the EU has introduced pricing policies to persuade users – farmers, industries and households – to save the precious resource. Meanwhile, pressure is growing to recognise access to safe drinking water and sanitation as a basic human right.

  • Greening logistics

    Transport 24-10-2008

    Soaring fuel prices, together with growing road congestion and increasingly stringent EU legislation, are forcing freight and delivery services to rethink their transportation strategies so as to save money on fuel and limit their environmental impact.

  • Public Procurement: Buying Green? [Archived]

    21-10-2008

    The EU is promoting the use of public procurement in its member states as a means of kick-starting the market for eco-innovative goods and services and achieving its environmental goals in a cost-efficient manner.

  • Sustainable Cities

    08-10-2008

    The climate change imperative has put the spotlight on Europe's cities, which are home to 80% of Europeans and consume a disproportionate share of natural resources relative to their surface area. 

  • Pesticides: Striking the right balance?

    03-10-2008

    Debate over the use of pesticides in agriculture is taking a new twist as an EU proposal to substitute the most dangerous substances with safer alternatives encounters opposition from farmers, who argue that bans will only exacerbate the crisis caused by rising food prices.

  • EU water policies in the developing world

    Special Report 29-09-2008

    As water shortages in developing countries become more acute due to climate change, the EU is backing policies to manage the demands of all sectors, prioritising health, sanitation and cooperation between states.

  • Microgeneration: Power to the people?

    Special Report | Energy 25-07-2008

    Households and neighbourhoods feeding small-scale electricity and heat into a decentralised European energy grid: this is the vision developed by proponents of microgeneration. Yet at present, the EU's energy system remains centralised and dominated by large power plants. 

  • Sustainable Consumption and Production

    Special Report 02-07-2008

    Amid concerns that growing resource scarcity and rising raw material costs are dampening prospects for Europe's economic growth, the EU is looking for ways to decrease the environmental impact of industrial activity, product manufacturing and consumption patterns.

  • Transport infrastructure and environment

    Transport 09-05-2008

    As mobility increases, Europe's roads and skies are becoming increasingly saturated – leaving policymakers with two options: to increase existing capacity or to optimise it, notably thanks to the introduction of infrastructure charging schemes.

  • Biofuels, Trade and Sustainability

    Trade & Society 28-04-2008

    The lack of internationally-agreed criteria for sustainable biofuels production and the muddle of different government measures aimed at sheltering domestic markets are holding back growth in the global biofuels trade and could stunt EU progress towards its goal of gradually replacing oil for transport.

  • Biofuels for transport

    Transport 11-04-2008

    In a bid to reduce its dependency on imported oil and tackle global warming, the EU has committed to raising the share of fuels from renewable sources in transport to 10% by 2020. Concerned with warnings that increased agrifuel production could in fact lead to mass deforestation and food shortages, the EU also agreed a set of sustainability criteria for biofuels.

  • Cars and CO2

    Transport 03-03-2008

    With automobile manufacturers expected to miss their voluntary commitments made last year to reduce CO2 emissions, the European Commission has proposed new binding legislation. Amid pressure from the car industry, which currently finds itself weighed down by economic recession, a compromise deal on the new laws was struck in December 2008.

  • EU climate change policies

    Climate change 06-12-2007

    The EU has implemented a range of policies to combat climate change and deliver on its Kyoto target of 8% CO2 reductions by 2012. As the negotiations for a new climate treaty continue, the EU is now implementing a set of new policies to reach its 2020 goals.

  • The review of the EU’s Fuel Quality Directive

    Transport 29-10-2007

    Petrol and diesel specifications are being reviewed in order to lower their environmental and health impact as well as to take into account new EU-wide targets on biofuels and greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

  • Aviation and Emissions Trading

    Climate change 11-10-2007

    In an effort to tackle aviation's small but fast-growing contribution to climate change, the EU has decided to impose a cap on CO2 emissions for all planes arriving at or departing from EU airports. Airlines would then be allowed to buy and sell 'pollution credits' on the EU 'carbon market' (Emissions Trading Scheme).

  • Urban Transport

    Transport 19-09-2007

    In September 2007, the Commission presented the outlines of a new 'urban strategy', which lays out a large range of potential solutions and areas where the EU could take action in order to tackle the growing congestion, pollution and safety problems in Europe's cities.

  • Biofuels: The Next Generation

    Energy 18-09-2007

    With ethanol and biodiesel coming under increasing criticism for driving up food prices and putting biodiversity at risk, the EU has committed to 'second-generation' biofuels as a clean alternative for transportation - but many challenges remain before they find their way into our cars.

  • The EU’s energy mix: Aiming for diversity

    Special Report 31-08-2007

    Securing a diverse energy mix has been identified as a key policy objective in order to shield Europe from potential external energy crises and achieve supply-security and environmental sustainability in the long term.

  • EU renewable energy policy

    Special Report | Energy & Environment 02-08-2007

    European leaders signed up to a binding EU-wide target to source 20% of their energy needs from renewables, including biomass, hydro, wind and solar power, by 2020. To meet this objective, they also agreed on a new directive to promote renewable energies, which set individual targets for each member state.

  • Energy efficiency action plan

    Energy 20-07-2007

    Europe has embarked on an ambitious plan to cut its energy consumption by 20% by 2020 in a bid to reduce its dependency on imported oil and gas and slash its energy bill by an estimated 100 billion euro every year. If it delivers, the plan would also prevent 780 million tonnes of CO2 from being emitted in the atmosphere, or twice the amount the EU agreed to under the Kyoto Protocol.

  • Sustainable Transport

    Transport 20-07-2007

    The Commission set out a ten-year strategy on sustainability in the transport sector in its 2001 White Paper on Transport Policy. The strategy focused predominantly on balancing the different modes of transport, harmonising legislation within specific sectors, and enhancing transport safety. But, in an enlarged EU, under pressure from accelerating globalisation, high oil prices and transport-targeted terrorist attacks, the EU is looking to adapt its initial strategy.

  • Peak Oil

    Energy 30-05-2007

    Is it possible that the world has reached the point of maximum oil production? - Some geological experts believe so and if their 'peak oil' theory is correct, this would have enormous consequences for energy security and for the world's economy. Nevertheless, the issue receives little attention in the EU's energy security policy.