Europe’s Environment Ministers met yesterday in Brussels with three of Europe’s, and the world’s, most pressing environmental challenges on the agenda – biodiversity, resource-use and climate change. On all three fronts, their responses are inadequate to address the scale of these global challenges, says Friends of the Earth Europe.
Environment Ministers showed that European Member states are not willing to do enough to implement the EU Biodiversity strategy and halt the alarming decline of species worldwide. In particular Ministers backed away from delivering a strong text on the importance of biodiversity in the ongoing debates of reforming Europe’s farming sector, one of the main drivers depleting biodiversity.
Friedrich Wulf, biodiversity campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: “Global biodiversity is disappearing at an alarming rate, yet it is clear from the meeting that this is a disturbingly low priority for European governments. Environment Ministers must commit to domestic action and also put the loss of species at the heart of the ongoing debates on agriculture and fisheries. The Council’s lack of guidance for these policies is astounding considering the seriousness of the problem and the need to ultimately save the basis of existence for future generations.”
Roadmap to a resource-efficient Europe
Ministers’ conclusions show clearly the lack of political will to rethink Europe’s overconsumption of the world’s resources. Discussions took place on the EU’s plan to improve resource efficiency but the roadmap does not measure up to the scale of the problem and is a big missed opportunity to save costs, boost competitiveness, create jobs, and take advantage of the positive environmental, economic and social benefits of resource-efficiency.
Michael Warhurst, resource use campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “Instead of agreeing to develop targets for reducing Europe’s dependence on water, land and other resources, member states have taken a step backwards by opening-up discussions on whether the milestones are valid and whether targets are needed. In these troubled economic times governments should be actively moving Europe towards a better use of resources.”
Outcome of Durban climate talks
Ministers discussed the outcome of the international climate talks reached in Durban, South Africa one week ago. Friends of the Earth believes the talks lacked ambition from developed countries and ended with an unsatisfying international agreement.
Susann Scherbarth, climate justice campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: “Environment Ministers are burying their heads over the outcome of Durban. The Durban climate conference left the world heading straight towards catastrophic climate change. They say more needs to be done but the world is still waiting for rich developed countries to recognize their historical responsibility and commit to urgent, drastic action – for Europe this means cuts of at least 40% by 2020 without offsetting. Without much stronger commitments for the next 5-10 years the Durban outcome will stay nothing more than smoke and mirrors – an illusion of ambition with no real targets or clear timelines."