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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Report on environmental problems in EU

Europe's environment: 'major concerns remain', says EEA report

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has released its fourth assessment report on the environmental situation in 53 European countries, highlighting significant air pollution, biodiversity loss and poor water quality across the region.

The EEA's fourth assessment report provides an overview of the environmental progress made by the pan-European region - stretching from Western Europe across the Balkans and Eastern Europe to Central Asia - over the last five to seven years.

The report points to the environmental impact of agriculture, transport, energy and other economic activities, adding that "consumption and production also place an increasing demand on natural resources, putting our environment at further risk", the EEA said in a press statement.

  • Deadly air

Among the most alarming findings in the report is the observation that air pollution likely reduces the life expectancy of Western and Central Europeans by almost one year. In addition, heightened economic activity in the EU's wider neighbourhood, including Central Asia and the Caucasus region, has led to a 10% increase in air pollution since 2000, the EEA said.

Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland and Hungary feature among EU countries cited for particularly poor air quality levels.

  • Thirst for clean water

Access to safe drinking water is a problem in many parts of the region, especially in rural areas. "More than 100 million people in the pan-European region still do not have access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation", the report says. Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of droughts, the EEA warns.

  • Departing species

Biodiversity loss is cited as a major concern in the report. "700 European species are currently under threat", according to the EEA, and "the general biodiversity trend on agricultural land is negative despite agricultural policies being increasingly geared towards biodiversity conservation", it said.

  • Troubled waters

The EEA points to a wide-ranging set of problems faced by Europe's oceans, inland waters and coastal environments. They include over-fishing, eutrophication (particularly from agricultural run-offs), pollution, oil spills and regular discharges from vessels, population densities and ecosystem collapses.

Climate change is expected to exacerbate all of these problems by causing "large scale alterations in sea temperature, sea level, sea-ice cover, currents and the chemical properties of the seas", the report says.

In addition to recommending an integrated, "eco-system based" approach rather than a number of fragmented policies, the EEA recommends that "adaptation policies should include measures to reduce non-climatic impacts in order to increase the resilience of marine ecosystems and the coastal zone to climate change".

The Commission appears to have taken this advice into consideration as part of its new integrated maritime policy, announced on 10 October (EurActiv 11/10/07).

  • More communication needed

Better implementation of environmental policies and increased information flows are presented as key recommendations. "A shared environmental information system is also urgently required to deal with a prevailing lack of reliable, accessible and comparable environmental information across the region", the organisation said.


My comment: And now that we know, what? And maybe that's not the right question, because they accept all kind of plans and strategies that are never meant to happen. Yes, under the pressure of the Green in the bigger countries they somewhat follow the strategies, but in the smaller countries like mine, no one cares. I don't like that!But at least it's good that someone hears these reports.

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