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Material use in the European Union: Towards a circular approach

11-09-2018

Global material use has tripled during the past four decades, in particular as a result of increasing living standards. The use of materials, which need to be extracted from our environment, can pose environmental challenges. It can also be threatened by resource scarcity and price volatility. This is particularly true for Europe, which is strongly dependent on imported materials. There are a number of ways to consider material use in the European Union (EU). The breakdown of material use by types ...

Global material use has tripled during the past four decades, in particular as a result of increasing living standards. The use of materials, which need to be extracted from our environment, can pose environmental challenges. It can also be threatened by resource scarcity and price volatility. This is particularly true for Europe, which is strongly dependent on imported materials. There are a number of ways to consider material use in the European Union (EU). The breakdown of material use by types of materials indicates that non-metallic minerals, which include sand and gravel, account for almost half of the materials used in the EU. Material flows provide an overall picture of how materials enter, are used and finally leave the economy. Some of these materials stay in stocks, which are growing year after year. However, the efficiency of material use, measured through resource productivity, has increased substantially since 2000, in part as a result of the economic crisis. Material use in the EU is steered by policies related to different areas such as energy, waste and industry. Relevant policy documents include the 2011 roadmap to a resource-efficient Europe, the 2013 seventh Environment Action Programme and the 2015 circular economy action plan. The EU supports these policies with funding. Funding channels include the Horizon 2020 framework programme for research and innovation, which allocated about €635 million between 2014 and 2020 for research on raw-material-related challenges. The European structural and investment funds also support developing more efficient material use practices. The European Parliament has advocated making the use of harmonised indicators for resource efficiency legally binding in the Member States and setting targets for increasing resource efficiency. Parliament has also supported broadening the scope of eco-design requirements to gradually include all relevant resource-efficiency features in product-design requirements.

Uusiutuvat energialähteet

01-01-2018

Tuulivoima, aurinkoenergia, vesivoima, valtamerienergia, maalämpö, biomassa ja biopolttoaineet ovat uusiutuvia energialähteitä, jotka ovat vaihtoehtoja fossiilisille polttoaineille. Ne auttavat vähentämään kasvihuonekaasupäästöjä, monipuolistamaan energian tarjontaa ja vähentämään riippuvuutta epäluotettavista ja vaihteluille alttiista fossiilisten polttoaineiden ja etenkin öljyn ja kaasun markkinoista. Uusiutuvaa energiaa edistävä EU:n lainsäädäntö on kehittynyt merkittävästi viime vuosina. Vuoden ...

Tuulivoima, aurinkoenergia, vesivoima, valtamerienergia, maalämpö, biomassa ja biopolttoaineet ovat uusiutuvia energialähteitä, jotka ovat vaihtoehtoja fossiilisille polttoaineille. Ne auttavat vähentämään kasvihuonekaasupäästöjä, monipuolistamaan energian tarjontaa ja vähentämään riippuvuutta epäluotettavista ja vaihteluille alttiista fossiilisten polttoaineiden ja etenkin öljyn ja kaasun markkinoista. Uusiutuvaa energiaa edistävä EU:n lainsäädäntö on kehittynyt merkittävästi viime vuosina. Vuoden 2030 jälkeisen ajan toimintakehys on parhaillaan käsiteltävänä.

Climate and Energy policies in Poland

11-09-2017

• GHG emissions in Poland decreased strongly by 37% in the period 1990-2002, but after 2002 emissions grew by 3% until 2015. Poland has a growth target of 14% for the 2005-2020 period under the Effort Sharing Decision (ESD), and it is on track to reach this target because the actual emission increase is lower than expected in the ESD target. • Comparative indicators such as emission intensity indicate that Poland performs worse than most other Eastern European countries and average EU-28 Member ...

• GHG emissions in Poland decreased strongly by 37% in the period 1990-2002, but after 2002 emissions grew by 3% until 2015. Poland has a growth target of 14% for the 2005-2020 period under the Effort Sharing Decision (ESD), and it is on track to reach this target because the actual emission increase is lower than expected in the ESD target. • Comparative indicators such as emission intensity indicate that Poland performs worse than most other Eastern European countries and average EU-28 Member States in terms of emission reductions and decarbonisation in the energy sector which is due to its strong reliance on coal. • Recent decisions and revised legislation in 2017 in the energy sector will lead to an increased role of coal in energy supply compared to past plans and a much slower expansion of renewable energies than in recent years, in particular for wind power. • Polish plans in the energy sector will not contribute to significant further emission reductions in the future. As Poland is the fifth largest EU emitter, this may slow down overall EU progress in emission reductions.

Ulkopuolinen laatija

Anke Herold (Öko-Institut), Anne Siemons (Öko-Institut), Lidia Wojtal

EU sustainability criteria for bioenergy

29-08-2017

Bioenergy, which is generally produced from plants such as agricultural crops or trees, comes in various forms. Wood and other solid biomass are commonly used for heating and electricity generation. Liquid biofuels for transport and other purposes are mainly made from food and feed crops, but can also be produced from waste and residues. Bioenergy can also be delivered in the form of gas. Bioenergy is a renewable but finite energy source, and considered as climate-friendly because the carbon which ...

Bioenergy, which is generally produced from plants such as agricultural crops or trees, comes in various forms. Wood and other solid biomass are commonly used for heating and electricity generation. Liquid biofuels for transport and other purposes are mainly made from food and feed crops, but can also be produced from waste and residues. Bioenergy can also be delivered in the form of gas. Bioenergy is a renewable but finite energy source, and considered as climate-friendly because the carbon which is emitted during combustion was removed from the atmosphere during growth of the biomass and will be removed again after some time if new plants are grown. However, its production and use has environmental impacts and the climate benefits may vary. The existing Renewable Energy Directive sets mandatory sustainability and greenhouse gas saving criteria for biofuels. For forest biomass, the Commission issued recommendations, but these are not uniformly implemented in the Member States. In November 2016, the Commission proposed a revised Renewable Energy Directive which includes mandatory sustainability criteria for both biofuels and biomass. The European Parliament supports sustainability criteria for bioenergy, and highlighted the sustainability issues of forest biomass in its June 2016 resolution on renewable energy. Stakeholder reactions to the Commission proposal have been mixed. While environmental NGOs called for stricter criteria, the bioenergy industries warned that tighter limits on conventional biofuels hinder the decarbonisation of the transport sector. Farmers and forest owners expressed concern about additional economic and administrative burden and stressed the principle of subsidiarity in forest policies.

Use of energy from renewable sources

26-06-2017

Despite its considerable length and a rather large number of options (over 30), the IA report could have delivered a more coherent, comprehensive, and persuasive analysis. The internal logic of the report and the arrangement of options is at times hard to understand because the options are linked to challenges rather than to clearly defined problems and objectives. Furthermore, the absence of preferred options makes it difficult to assess the usefulness of the impact assessment in informing the political ...

Despite its considerable length and a rather large number of options (over 30), the IA report could have delivered a more coherent, comprehensive, and persuasive analysis. The internal logic of the report and the arrangement of options is at times hard to understand because the options are linked to challenges rather than to clearly defined problems and objectives. Furthermore, the absence of preferred options makes it difficult to assess the usefulness of the impact assessment in informing the political decisions underpinning the legislative proposal. The use of different models, which are by the Commission's own admittance very difficult to compare, may have led to a certain lack of coherence in the assessment of the impacts. The proportionality of proposed measures is not always clearly visible compared with the evidence provided by the models used in the assessment. Overall, given the number of considerable shortcomings and the fact that the assessment twice received a negative opinion from the RSB, one might have expected a better argumentation for the Commission's decision to proceed with the proposal.

Transparent and Accountable Management of Natural Resources in Developing Countries: The Case of Forests

31-05-2017

This study reviewed the state of transparency and accountability in the forestry sector in developing countries focusing on contributions of EU actions and provisions on the same. The study was based on review of literature, policies and reports on forest governance, using three FLEGT-VPA case study countries, namely Cameroon, Ghana and Tanzania. More than 200 million Euros have been invested into FLEGT-VPA and related activities around Africa with positive impacts on transparency, accountability ...

This study reviewed the state of transparency and accountability in the forestry sector in developing countries focusing on contributions of EU actions and provisions on the same. The study was based on review of literature, policies and reports on forest governance, using three FLEGT-VPA case study countries, namely Cameroon, Ghana and Tanzania. More than 200 million Euros have been invested into FLEGT-VPA and related activities around Africa with positive impacts on transparency, accountability and overall governance. Less impact is elicited regarding benefits to local people and FLEGT interactions with other mechanisms such as REDD+. More importantly, little evidence exists on direct evidence of FLEGT-VPA processes incentivizing sustainable forest management even though there is some evidence of growth in legal timber export numbers. Recommendations for improving FLEGT –VPA include, expanding the definition of “legality” to include safeguards that ensure community rights and benefits; strengthening EU-China FLEGT-VPA initiatives to enable comparable standards for African timber; including small scale and agroforestry-based domestic timber into the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR); increasing capacity building and synergy with other mechanisms such as REDD+. Opportunities for new EU policies and actions include FLEGT-type monitoring for forest-related SDGs and incentives for actions in the New York Declaration on Forests.

Ulkopuolinen laatija

- Peter MINANG, Principal Scientist, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and ASB Partnership for The Tropical Forest Margins), Kenya; - Lalisa DUGUMA, Scientist, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and ASB Partnership for The Tropical Forest Margins), Kenya; - Florence BERNARD, Associate scientist, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Kenya and - Judith NZYOKA, Assistant Scientist, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and ASB Partnership for The Tropical Forest Margins), Kenya

Circular economy with focus on waste, renewable energy and sustainable bioenergy in Estonia

15-05-2017

This briefing reviews Estonia’s progress in the transition to a circular economy, focusing on a three crucial and related policy areas: waste, renewable energy and sustainable bioenergy. A key challenge for Estonia in terms of moving to a circular economy will be to strengthen recycling, as well as high rates of separate collection in cities including Tallinn – Estonia is not on track to meet the EU’s 2020 targets for municipal solid waste recycling. • The share of renewable energy has increased ...

This briefing reviews Estonia’s progress in the transition to a circular economy, focusing on a three crucial and related policy areas: waste, renewable energy and sustainable bioenergy. A key challenge for Estonia in terms of moving to a circular economy will be to strengthen recycling, as well as high rates of separate collection in cities including Tallinn – Estonia is not on track to meet the EU’s 2020 targets for municipal solid waste recycling. • The share of renewable energy has increased strongly in the past ten years, due mainly to a growth in wind power and biomass, which is used for household heating and for district heating. The intensity of forest use is among the highest in the EU. As a large share of Estonian forests will reach maturity in coming years, Estonia has the capacity to extract greater levels of biomass.

Ulkopuolinen laatija

Tony Zamparutti, Alicia McNeill, Harri Moora, Maarja Joe and Evelin Piirsalu

What if we were to build skyscrapers from wood?

03-04-2017

Can new technologies contribute to a revival of wood as a source for biomass and construction material, and play a leading role in the fight against climate change? Wood has been part of human civilisation for many thousands of years, playing a key role as fuel or construction material, as well as a material for the manufacture of furniture, machinery, means of transport and everyday objects.

Can new technologies contribute to a revival of wood as a source for biomass and construction material, and play a leading role in the fight against climate change? Wood has been part of human civilisation for many thousands of years, playing a key role as fuel or construction material, as well as a material for the manufacture of furniture, machinery, means of transport and everyday objects.

Bioeconomy: Challenges and opportunities

19-01-2017

The bioeconomy refers to the production and extraction of renewable biological resources and their conversion into food and feed, bio-based products and bioenergy. Although primarily based on activities carried out, in some form, for centuries or millennia (such as farming, fisheries or forestry), the bioeconomy emerged in the past decade as a knowledge-driven concept aimed at meeting a number of today's challenges. In the European Union (EU), the bioeconomy sectors have an annual turnover of about ...

The bioeconomy refers to the production and extraction of renewable biological resources and their conversion into food and feed, bio-based products and bioenergy. Although primarily based on activities carried out, in some form, for centuries or millennia (such as farming, fisheries or forestry), the bioeconomy emerged in the past decade as a knowledge-driven concept aimed at meeting a number of today's challenges. In the European Union (EU), the bioeconomy sectors have an annual turnover of about €2 trillion and employ between 17 and 19 million people. They use almost three quarters of the EU land area. A stronger bioeconomy could trigger growth and jobs, and reduce dependency on imports. It could contribute to optimising the use of biological resources, which remain finite although they are renewable. However, it could also create competition between uses and technologies at various levels. Besides, the amount of available biomass remains disputed. A bioeconomy could contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving public health. However, it could also trigger new greenhouse gas emissions and induce adverse impacts on the environment. The EU policy framework for the bioeconomy is spread across a number of policies (agriculture, forestry, fisheries, climate, circular economy and research). Although a bioeconomy strategy from 2012 aims to ensure policy coherence, inconsistencies remain. The EU provides funding to innovative bioeconomy activities through the framework programme for research (Horizon 2020) and a range of other instruments. The European Parliament has been supportive of the bioeconomy strategy, while highlighting the need for sustainability and policy coherence.

Renewable energy in EU agriculture

23-11-2016

The agricultural sector accounts for almost 10 % of greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union, mainly for food production and transport. In recent years, European farmers have made efforts to significantly reduce this environmental footprint by increasing their consumption and production of renewable energy, which is derived from natural resources that are naturally replenished. While there is enormous potential for the production of renewable energy on farms due to the availability of wind, ...

The agricultural sector accounts for almost 10 % of greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union, mainly for food production and transport. In recent years, European farmers have made efforts to significantly reduce this environmental footprint by increasing their consumption and production of renewable energy, which is derived from natural resources that are naturally replenished. While there is enormous potential for the production of renewable energy on farms due to the availability of wind, sunlight, biomass and agricultural waste, important barriers and challenges still remain.

Tulevat tapahtumat

16-10-2019
State of the Union: The view from regions and cities
Muu tapahtuma -
EPRS
17-10-2019
What Europe is Thinking: The latest Pew survey of opinion in 14 EU Member States
Muu tapahtuma -
EPRS
05-11-2019
The Art and Craft of Political Speech-writing: A conversation with Eric Schnure
Muu tapahtuma -
EPRS

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