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EU Environment Policy

Latest news on the environment policies of the European Union.

Air Quality in European cities - Urban PM2.5 Atlas 16 November 2017, 22:33 CET
Many European cities suffer from poor air quality and regularly exceed both the European standards prescribed by the Air Quality Directive and the guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization. This is particularly the case for fine particulate matter (PM10) for which both the daily and yearly average limit values are regularly exceeded in many cities and several regions in Europe. Similar conclusions hold for PM2.5 where few cities manage to keep concentrations below the levels recommended by the WHO. Actions have been proposed and taken at the international, national and urban scales to reduce air pollution. While they have undoubtedly resulted in an overall improvement of the air quality over the years, there are still problems which are localised in specific regions and many cities. A key issue is thus to determine at which scale to act in order to abate these remaining air pollution problems most effectively. Central to this for cities, is a quantitative assessment of the different origins of air pollution in the city (urban, regional, national and transboundary) to support the design of efficient and effective air quality plans, which are a legal obligation for countries and regions whenever exceedances occur. The “Screening for High Emission Reduction Potentials for Air quality” tool (SHERPA) has been developed by the Joint Research Centre to quantify the origins of air pollution in cities and regions. In this Atlas, both the spatial (urban, country…) and sectoral (transport, residential, agriculture…) contributions are quantified for 150 European urban areas in Europe, where many of the current exceedances to the air quality EU limit values and WHO guidelines are reported. There is a need to provide information to improve air quality policy governance, to support authorities in choosing the most efficient actions at the appropriate administrative level and scale. In particular, actions at the local level focusing on the urban scale and at national/international level needs to be carefully balanced. Key conclusions are: • For many cities, local actions at the city scale are an effective means of improving air quality in that city. The overall conclusion is that cities have a role to play by taking actions at their own scale. It is important to emphasise that the emissions in cities contribute significantly to country and EU overall PM concentrations, reinforcing the important role of cities in reducing the air pollution through a multilevel approach. • Impacts of abatement measures on air quality are city specific The impact of a given abatement measure on air quality differs from city to city, even for cities that are located in the same country. Actions taken at different scales or in different activity sectors therefore lead to impacts on air quality that are city-specific. The diversity of possible responses to abatement measures stresses the need to take into account these city-specific circumstances when designing air quality plans. Actions that are efficient in one city might not be efficient in others. • Sectoral measures addressing agriculture at country or EU scale would have a clear benefit on urban air quality. Although agricultural emissions are limited in the "city" as defined here, agriculture considerably impacts air quality in many EU cities. The extent of the impact of agriculture on air quality is indicative of the potential of EU- or country-wide measures addressing this sector. Moreover, other sectoral measures can have an important potential at the urban scale even though they are applied at EU or country scale. This is the case of road transport where the EURO norms are, in practice, most effective in the areas where traffic is most important, i.e. cities.

European Air Quality Index 16 November 2017, 22:29 CET
How clean is the air you’re breathing right now? How does the air in your city compare with that of a neighbouring city or region? Air pollution is the single largest environmental health risk in Europe. The European Environment Agency's European Air Quality Index allows users to understand more about air quality where they live. Displaying up-to-the-minute data for the whole of Europe, users can gain new insights into the air quality of individual countries, regions and cities.

EU carbon market reform deal falls short 13 November 2017, 16:46 CET
A tentative deal to redesign one of the EU’s key climate policies, the Emissions Trading Scheme, was reached by the EU institutions Thursday, but it was not welcomed by environmental groups.

Driving Clean Mobility: Questions & Answers 08 November 2017, 16:55 CET
The European Commission proposed on 8 November 2017 new targets for the EU fleet wide average CO2 emissions of new passenger cars and vans to help accelerate the transition to low- and zero emission vehicles.

EU sets out new 2030 targets for clean cars 08 November 2017, 17:08 CET
The European Commission proposed new targets for EU fleet-wide average CO2 emissions of new passenger cars and vans Wednesday, in a bid to accelerate transition to low- and zero emission vehicles.

EU on track for 2020 CO2 emissions targets 08 November 2017, 13:49 CET
Greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union were reduced by 23% between 1990 and 2016, while the economy grew by 53% over the same period, according to the latest Commission report.

Brussels presents sustainable fishing plan for 2018 07 November 2017, 18:14 CET
The European Commission presented Tuesday its proposal for next year's fishing quotas in the Atlantic and North Sea, which EU Member States are due to agree at the December Fisheries Council.

COP23 UN climate change conference 07 November 2017, 13:09 CET
The 2017 UN Climate Change Conference opened on 6 November 2017, with the aim of launching nations towards the next level of ambition needed to tackle global warming and put the world on a safer and more prosperous development path.

UN climate talks begin with call to accelerate action 07 November 2017, 18:11 CET
The 2017 UN climate change conference got under way Monday, aiming for speedier, more ambitious global action on climate change and put the world on a safer, more prosperous development path.

MEPs demand phasing out of glyphosate weedkiller 25 October 2017, 23:04 CET
The European Parliament voted Tuesday for immediate restrictions on the use of controversial glyphosate-based herbicides, leading to a full ban on use of the substance by December 2022.

MEPs propose ban on glyphosate herbicide by 2020 19 October 2017, 14:06 CET
MEPs on the European Parliament's Environment Committee backed Wednesday a full ban on glyphosate-based herbicides by December 2020 and immediate restrictions on the use of the substance.

Sustainable forests: EU agrees general approach for 2021-30 17 October 2017, 23:24 CET
EU environment ministers have come to a general agreement on new rules for more sustainable and climate-friendly use of lands and forests across Europe over the period 2021-2030.

Land use and forestry proposal for 2021-2030 16 October 2017, 15:49 CET
On 20 July 2016 the European Commission presented a legislative proposal to integrate greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use, land use-change and forestry (LULUCF) into the 2030 climate and energy framework . The proposal follows the agreement with EU leaders in October 2014 that all sectors should contribute to the EU's 2030 emission reduction target, including the land use sector. It is also in line with the Paris Agreement, which points out to the critical role of the land use sector in reaching our long-term climate mitigation objectives.

Pesticides must be checked for harmful chemicals: MEPs 12 October 2017, 20:45 CET
MEPs at a public hearing Wednesday discussed the EU risk assessment of the herbicide glyphosate, demanding that pesticides be checked for endocrine disrupting chemicals.

MEPs back law for more energy-efficient buildings 11 October 2017, 15:45 CET
MEPs in committee gave their backing Wednesday to a revision of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive aiming to ensure that all new buildings in the EU are as energy-efficient as possible by 2050.

EU adopts position on climate finance ahead of COP23 11 October 2017, 15:30 CET
EU finance ministers met in Luxembourg Tuesday to discuss and adopt the EU’s position on climate finance, ahead of the next international climate summit COP23 in Bonn in November.

Ministers agree deal on Baltic fishing quotas 10 October 2017, 17:28 CET
EU fisheries ministers agreed Monday on next year's total allowable catches (TACs) and national quotas for the ten commercially most important fish stocks in the Baltic Sea.

MEPs put brake on pesticides plan 05 October 2017, 13:18 CET
The European Parliament blocked an EU Commission proposal Wednesday which would have exempted some chemicals in pesticides from being identified as endocrine disruptors.

LIFE programme: EUR 222 m for environment, nature and climate action 28 September 2017, 23:08 CET
The Commission approved Thursday an EU investment package of EUR 222 million to support Europe's transition to more sustainable and low-carbon future under the LIFE programme for the Environment and Climate Action.

Tougher car emissions tests start in EU 05 September 2017, 00:27 CET
New car models have to pass new and more reliable emissions tests in real driving condition as well as an improved laboratory test, before they can be driven on European roads from 1 September.

New mandatory car emissions tests 31 August 2017, 17:23 CET
From 1 September 2017, new car models have to pass new and more reliable emissions tests in real driving conditions ("Real Driving Emissions" – RDE) as well as an improved laboratory test ("World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure" – WLTP) before they can be driven on European roads.

EU cuts Baltic eastern cod quota by 28 pct 01 September 2017, 18:39 CET
The European Commission adopted Tuesday a proposal for fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2018 which would significantly reduce catches of Baltic eastern cod and ban all marine eel fisheries.

EU a step closer to linking Emissions Trading System 23 August 2017, 01:38 CET
The European Union moved a step closer Wednesday to linking the EU's Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) with the Swiss emissions trading system, which would be the first time it has linked its ETS.

International carbon market 16 August 2017, 23:44 CET
International carbon markets can play a key role in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions cost-effectively. The number of emissions trading systems around the world is increasing. Besides the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS), national or sub-national systems are already operating or under development in Canada, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Switzerland and the United States.

EU targets pollution with review of fuel-burning plants 01 August 2017, 12:05 CET
The EU Commission took action Monday against pollution from large combustion plants, such as power stations and district heating plants - responsible for about one-third of all air pollutants from industry.