The European Commissioner for Environment, Janez Potočnik, has underlined future of environmental policy and environmental priorities for the coming years. He sees the key challenges to be putting environmental considerations at the centre of the decision-making process in all policy areas. Making sure that environment policy and economic growth can and should go hand-in-hand while recognising that green growth is the only way for us to exit the economic crisis in the long term. This years key environmental initiatives include:-
1) “A decent life for all: Ending poverty and giving the world a sustainable future.” - Building on the outcome of last year’s Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development. It proposes a single, coherent framework to couple sustainable development with efforts to end poverty.
2) A review of our air policies. In Europe, each year, 400,000 people die prematurely because of air pollution. - air pollution also affects businesses and public budgets due to lost working days as well as the cost of health care on pollution-related diseases. Despite major improvements, exceeding air quality standards continues to be widespread and we need to address this.
3) Shale gas - it is vital that environmental risks in this field are identified, understood and properly managed. We need to put in place an appropriate framework to secure public confidence and provide clarity for market operators who want to explore and produce shale gas, so that the economic potential of this resource is not needlessly compromised.
4) Preparations for a comprehensive package on waste in 2014.
He has stated that he remains committed to the three priorities resource efficiency, biodiversity and implementation of existing legislation. In order to do this he has talked of the importance of adopting a new 7th Environmental Action Plan. This seven year plan will provide a general framework for environmental policy-making until 2020, at EU and Member State level. A single market for resource efficient, low-carbon growth green economy. It will also tackle environment-related challenges to health, for example, on air quality, soil directive and addressing concerns linked to chemicals and nano-materials. The 7th EAP will deal with these challenges by aiming to provide better implementation of legislation; better information by improving the scientific evidence base; provide greater investments for the environment, and create full integration of environment into other policies READ MORE