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FoEE comment on Commission resources initiative

27 January 2011
by foeeurope -- last modified 27 January 2011

The scale of the challenge posed by Europe’s unsustainable use of the world’s natural resources has been acknowledged by the European Commission. Lawmakers in Brussels published an initiative outlining how Europe plans to tackle its resource use which affects global resource prices, natural ecosystems and people – particularly the poor – across the world.


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Friends of the Earth Europe welcomed the publication of the 'Resource
efficiency flagship initiative', and in particular the fact that it
recognises the scale of the challenge, but says that Europe must now
create and implement effective polices to reduce Europe's resource
footprint.

Dr Michael Warhurst, resources and consumption campaigner for Friends of
the Earth Europe said: "Europe is using far more than its fair share of
the world's resources, with devastating impacts on ecosystems and
communities. We welcome this realisation by the European Commission of
the need for Europe to reduce its use of natural resources but it must
now move rapidly to create solid policies to reduce our resource use,
backed by an effective system for measuring and setting targets for our
use of land, water, materials and carbon emissions, wherever they are in
the world."

Friends of the Earth, with Sustainable Europe Research Institute in
Vienna, has developed four indicators for measuring Europe's use of
resources from around the world – land footprint, water footprint,
carbon footprint and overall material use.

Friends of the Earth's research has shown that Europe buries or burns
over €5 billion of valuable resources every year. By increasing
Europe's recycling target from 50% to 70% over 500,000 jobs could be
created.

On February 4, Europe's heads of government will meet in Brussels for an
extraordinary summit on the use of energy resources. Friends of the
Earth Europe is calling on them to agree an EU-wide binding target for
energy savings.

Brook Riley, climate and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth
Europe, added: "The scale of these future challenges make it essential
that Europe rapidly becomes much more energy efficient; the first step
is to introduce a binding energy savings target. Energy savings will cut
greenhouse gas emissions, decrease dependency on energy imports, create
millions of new green jobs, and save over €1000 per household every year."

Friends of the Earth has previously highlighted the scale of land
grabbing in Africa, an example of how the growing demand for natural
resources is damaging the rights and livelihoods of local people in the
poorest countries. Land is being taken to meet Europe's increasing
demand for biofuels.

If European countries are to reach their targets for expanding biofuels
for transport fuels by 2020, a knock-on expansion of global cultivated
agricultural lands will result, converting forests, grasslands, and peat
lands into crop fields. A recent Friends of the Earth study estimates
that up to 69,000 square kilometres will be affected - an area over
twice the size of Belgium. This will make climate change worse and put
forests, natural ecosystems and poor communities in danger.

Europe currently imports more than two thirds of its protein animal
feed, mainly soy, requiring huge areas of land, mainly in South America. Each person in the EU uses an average of 213 square metres of soy to
feed the animals for the meat and dairy products they consume. This is
10.6 million hectares in total.

Friends of the Earth Europe is campaigning for reform of the Common
Agricultural Policy to help European farmers swap imported soy animal
feed for home-grown alternatives.

Friends of the Earth Europe campaigns for sustainable and just societies and for the protection of the environment, unites 30 national organisations with thousands of local groups and is part of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, Friends of the Earth International.

Friends of the Earth Europe
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