The European Environment Agency (EEA) released Europe’s state of the environment report for 2020. This is published by the EEA every five years since 1995 and is now in its 6th edition. The EEA is an official EU agency that provides independent information on the environment.
The 2020 report comes to the conclusion that European environment and climate policies have helped to improve the environment over recent decades, but progress is insufficient and the outlook for the environment in the coming decade is not positive. It analysed the achievement of meeting 2020 and 2030 policy targets, as well as longer term 2050 goals.
The report notes that Europe has already made significant progress over the past two decades in terms of climate change mitigation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Signs of progress are also evident in other areas, such as tackling air and water pollution and the introduction of new policies to tackle plastic waste and bolster climate change adaptation and the circular and bio-economy.
Overall environmental trends in Europe have however not improved since the last EEA state of the environment report in 2015. The assessment notes that while most of the 2020 targets will not be achieved, especially those on biodiversity, there is still a chance to meet the longer-term goals and objectives for 2030 and 2050. Recent trends highlight a slowing down of progress in areas such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, industrial emissions, waste generation, improving energy efficiency and the share of renewable energy. It concludes that the current rate of progress will not be enough to meet 2030 and 2050 climate and energy targets.
The report outlines seven key areas where bold action is needed to get Europe back on track to achieve its 2030 and 2050 goals and ambitions. These are:
- Realise potential of existing environmental policies through full implementation
- Embrace sustainability as the framework for policy making with binding targets
- Lead international action towards sustainability by using the EU’s diplomatic and economic influence to promote the adoption of ambitious international agreements
- Foster innovation throughout society
- Scale up investments and refocus the finance sector on sustainable projects and businesses
- Manage risks and ensure a socially fair transition to ensure sure no one is left behind
- Build more knowledge and know-how.