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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

EU on the climate, December, in short

EP vote paves way for tighter EU air quality rules

Following an agreement with the Council, Parliament voted by a large majority on 11 December in favour of air quality legislation that sets new limits on fine particle pollution in the EU.

The Commission's proposed Air Quality Directive seeks to group five existing pieces of legislation into one, and focuses on reducing emissions of key airborne pollutants, in particular fine dust particles that are blamed for a range of health problems. source

UK looks to lead in offshore wind power

The UK has announced plans to build an unprecedented 33 gigawatts of offshore wind power capacity by 2020, surpassing Denmark in sea-based wind power output. But sceptics questioned whether the turbines will ever be built.

The plan, announced on 10 December in Berlin by UK industry secretary John Hutton, would represent a major step for the UK in meeting its obligations towards the EU's target of 20% renewable energy use by 2020.

"The draft plan I'm setting out today could allow companies to develop up to 25 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2020, in addition to the eight gigawatts already planned”, Hutton said.

If built, the combined 33 gigawatt capacity would be enough to power every home in the country, according to the government. Construction of the necessary wind turbines would be preceded by an environmental impact assessment of the seas surrounding the UK coastline.

And Alan Duncan, Tory shadow industry secretary, said the announcement looked much like a similar announcement made five years earlier, which never materialised.

source

'Travelling food' causes environmental headaches

Published: Tuesday 11 December 2007

Europeans' taste for processed food imported at low cost from developing countries has far-reaching environmental consequences, argues a study which aims to provoke discussion on the issue.

"Europeans are eating – and importing – more food from outside the EU than ever before," concludes a study on 'European Food Systems in a Changing World', the results of which were presented in November 2007.

The multidisciplinary studyexternal examined how complex technological and policy factors, including CAP reform, will affect the interactions between food availability, access and use. The research looked at where food comes from, and how it gets from the field to the fork. By studying what Europeans eat, scientists hope to understand the economic, political, and cultural impacts of food on European society.

Regarding the impact of Europeans' growing taste for overseas foods, the study foresees a "greater impact on the environment", mainly due to protective packaging for transport. "On average, 5% of what we buy in supermarkets is packaging," said Watkiss. In addition, food travelling around the globe results results in "more road congestion, greater damage to infrastructure, and higher emissions of pollutants, including greenhouse gases".

source

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