Tackling climate change and its consequences, reforming the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, improving air quality and reducing the environmental impact of biofuels will top the bloc's environmental policy debates in the coming year, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA). The agency's 'snapshot' of key environmental policy debates in 2009 singles out "global diplomacy and the search for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol" as the main topic to be discussed, followed by adapting to climate change and water-management issues.
Tackling climate change and its consequences,Â reforming the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, improvingÂ air quality and reducing the environmental impact ofÂ biofuels will top the bloc's environmental policy debates in the coming year, according toÂ the European Environment Agency (EEA).
The agency's 'snapshot' of key environmental policy debates in 2009Â singles outÂ "global diplomacy and the search for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol" as the mainÂ topic to be discussed, followed by adapting to climate changeÂ and water-management issues.Â
As for upcoming reform of the bloc's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), thereportÂ argues thatÂ current distribution of CAP funds "is not very effective from the perspective of achieving EU environmental objectives, in particular on nature protection". ItÂ suggestsÂ that the review should consider widening accessÂ to financial support to farmlandÂ "particularly rich in habitats and species of conservation concern", and particularly toÂ "high nature value farmland".Â
Intensive farms do not support biodiversity and are not all that dependent on CAP payments anyway, the EEA adds.
RegardingÂ biofuels, the agency notes that "the switch from oil to bioenergy is not risk free" andÂ a move towards large-scale bioenergy production wouldÂ carry considerable environmental risk, particularly in terms of land-use change.Â
The EEA thus believes that Europe should progress further by beginning toÂ researchÂ advanced second-generation biofuels seriously toÂ accountÂ forÂ their effects on soil, water, biodiversity and CO2Â emissions.Â
The increasing impactÂ of invasive alien speciesÂ arriving in European ecosystems on agricultural yields, timber qualityÂ and Europe's fragile biodiversity in general are alsoÂ listedÂ among the major policy debates.
Other hotÂ topics in 2009 include marine management andÂ international waste imports and exports.
"The natural resources provided by the planet underpin our economic activity and the very cohesion of our societies," noted EEA Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade. However, while the world economy has grown rapidly, "our environment has suffered," she added,Â deploring that "the way we organise our economies does not give sufficient recognition to the dependent nature of this relationship".Â
"Greenhouse gas emissions are just one symptom of a much deeper issue: our inability to live sustainably," she concluded.
- European Environment Agency (EEA):Â EEA Signals 2009Â (9 January 2009)
- European Environment Agency (EEA) press release:Â Killer slugs and other aliens - EEA Signals 2009: Eight environmental stories for EuropeÂ (9 January 2009)