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EU climate action in ocean governance and fisheries policy

22-04-2021

Marine resources are a vital and growing source of food for human consumption, while oceans also play an important role in climate regulation. Scientific evidence shows that the climate system has changed rapidly in recent decades, with the oceans greatly mitigating the effects of climate change by absorbing excess heat and human-made carbon emissions. The velocity of the effects of climate change leaves little room for adaptation, causing both declines in abundance and geographic shifts in fish ...

Marine resources are a vital and growing source of food for human consumption, while oceans also play an important role in climate regulation. Scientific evidence shows that the climate system has changed rapidly in recent decades, with the oceans greatly mitigating the effects of climate change by absorbing excess heat and human-made carbon emissions. The velocity of the effects of climate change leaves little room for adaptation, causing both declines in abundance and geographic shifts in fish populations. As a result, people who rely heavily on seafood and fisheries for their livelihoods run the risk of income loss and food insecurity. The European Green Deal places climate action at the heart of a wide range of new legislative and non-legislative initiatives and includes ambitious goals such as achieving climate-neutrality by 2050 and preserving and protecting biodiversity. The new 'farm to fork' strategy addresses the challenges of sustainability in the food supply chain and, in the area of seafood, highlights the imminent update of the strategic guidelines on aquaculture, the goal to support the algae industry and the focus on climate change in the 2022 common fisheries policy review. In its biodiversity strategy, the Commission proposes a new binding target of 30 % marine protected areas in EU waters by 2030, a target supported by Parliament. A reduction in fishing pressure could also offset the environmental impacts of climate change. The last reform of the common fisheries policy marked an important milestone by requiring fish stocks to be restored and maintained above levels capable of producing the maximum sustainable yield. An own-initiative report from Parliament's Committee on Fisheries focuses specifically on the impact of rising seawater temperatures on fish stocks and fisheries. The oceans can be harnessed to help to close the emissions gap however, by unlocking their renewable offshore energy potential. In its offshore renewable energy strategy, the Commission aims to reach a deployment of 300 GW in offshore wind capacity by 2050, a 20-fold increase compared to today. Another own-initiative report from Parliament's Committee on Fisheries looks into the impact on the fishing sector of offshore wind and other renewable energy systems.

New Ethiopian dam sparks controversy among Nile states

21-04-2021

Successive negotiation rounds between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt about the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) have ended in stalemate. This new dam, built by Ethiopia on the Blue Nile (the Nile's main tributary), will bring into operation Africa's largest hydropower plant. It is expected to secure access to electricity for the majority of Ethiopians, to foster economic development and to provide revenues from the sale of surplus electricity abroad. For its part, Sudan ...

Successive negotiation rounds between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt about the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) have ended in stalemate. This new dam, built by Ethiopia on the Blue Nile (the Nile's main tributary), will bring into operation Africa's largest hydropower plant. It is expected to secure access to electricity for the majority of Ethiopians, to foster economic development and to provide revenues from the sale of surplus electricity abroad. For its part, Sudan expects the new dam will not only help regulate the flow of the Nile and prevent devastating floods but also provide access to cheap energy; still, it fears the new dam will hinder the yield of its own dam – Roseires – situated within a short distance downstream. Egypt too is worried about the potential impact of the new dam on its own Aswan High Dam, and that it will give Ethiopia control over the flow of the Nile and reduce the fresh water available for Egyptians. Yet again, the GERD has reignited a long rivalry about the sharing of waters among the Nile basin countries. Most – including Ethiopia – have signed a comprehensive framework agreement on the water management of the Nile and its tributaries. However, Sudan and Egypt have refused to take part in the Nile basin comprehensive framework agreement, unless it recognises their right to oversee the use of most of the Nile waters, which a bilateral treaty of 1959 accorded to them, but which is contested by other basin countries. The EU supports the African Union in the quest for a negotiated solution on the GERD, which risks further setbacks due to the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region. This is an update of a Briefing published in December 2020. The author acknowledges the assistance of Christian Meseth from the Directorate-General for External Policies (DG EXPO) with the updating.

Climate action: The way ahead [What Think Tanks are thinking]

18-12-2020

In a passionate speech delivered recently at Columbia University in New York, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, described the fight against climate change as the top priority for the 21st century. Furthermore, the election of Joe Biden as the next President of the United States raises hopes that climate action will now be more coordinated and ambitious. Meanwhile, the European Union is determined to push ahead with its Green Deal in a package of measures that aims to radically cut emissions ...

In a passionate speech delivered recently at Columbia University in New York, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, described the fight against climate change as the top priority for the 21st century. Furthermore, the election of Joe Biden as the next President of the United States raises hopes that climate action will now be more coordinated and ambitious. Meanwhile, the European Union is determined to push ahead with its Green Deal in a package of measures that aims to radically cut emissions of greenhouse gases while creating jobs in clean industries. The main objectives of the European Green Deal are for the EU to become climate neutral by 2050, to radically reduce other types of pollution, help European companies become world leaders in green products, and offer aid to regions affected by this economic transition. This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from international think tanks on the Green Deal and climate issues. More studies on the topics can be found in a previous item from these series, published in March 2020.

Reducing food waste in the European Union

01-12-2020

According to a 2019 report by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), we know surprisingly little about how much food is lost or wasted, where along the food supply chain this happens, and why. Producing food that is not eaten – whether because it is lost in the field or wasted on a plate – not only diminishes the quantity of food available, but is also a waste of economic and environmental resources, FAO states. Around 88 million tonnes of food waste are generated annually in ...

According to a 2019 report by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), we know surprisingly little about how much food is lost or wasted, where along the food supply chain this happens, and why. Producing food that is not eaten – whether because it is lost in the field or wasted on a plate – not only diminishes the quantity of food available, but is also a waste of economic and environmental resources, FAO states. Around 88 million tonnes of food waste are generated annually in the EU alone, with associated costs estimated at €143 billion. To address this issue, an EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste was established in 2016. The forum brings together key players seeking to provide help to all those involved in: defining measures to prevent food waste, including at EU level; sharing best practices; and evaluating progress made over time. The European Parliament has consistently backed the reduction of food waste. In its resolution of January 2020 on the European Green Deal, the EP calls for an enforceable EU-wide food waste reduction target of 50 % by 2030, based on a common methodology for measuring food waste. Member States are expected to have started collecting data on food waste in 2020 and to report on national food waste levels by mid-2022. As part of the European Green Deal action plan, the European Commission presented in May 2020 a 'Farm to Fork strategy' aimed at making food systems more sustainable. One of the targets included in the strategy is 'stepping up the fight against food waste', that is, cutting food waste by half with the help of legally binding EU-wide targets by 2023. In this context, the Commission also aims to revise EU rules on date marking in order to take account of consumer research indicating that the meaning of date marking on food products is often misinterpreted or misunderstood.

Towards a more sustainable single market for business and consumers

19-11-2020

Achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, in line with the European Green Deal, will require the EU to overhaul its production and consumption patterns. During the November II plenary session, the European Parliament is expected to vote on an own-initiative report that recommends a possible way forward by making products more durable and easier to repair and recycle, and by providing consumers with more rights and information, so as to nudge them towards more sustainable choices.

Achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, in line with the European Green Deal, will require the EU to overhaul its production and consumption patterns. During the November II plenary session, the European Parliament is expected to vote on an own-initiative report that recommends a possible way forward by making products more durable and easier to repair and recycle, and by providing consumers with more rights and information, so as to nudge them towards more sustainable choices.

Forest fires: Environmental stakes

19-11-2020

Covering nearly one third of the land surface of the globe, forests make a wide range of direct and indirect contributions to human well-being. Home to most of the world's terrestrial biodiversity, they also play an essential role in climate change mitigation, removing about a quarter of the CO2 that human activities add to the atmosphere. Worldwide, millions of hectares (ha) of forests and other types of vegetation burn every year. Fire dynamics are shaped by a complex set of factors, including ...

Covering nearly one third of the land surface of the globe, forests make a wide range of direct and indirect contributions to human well-being. Home to most of the world's terrestrial biodiversity, they also play an essential role in climate change mitigation, removing about a quarter of the CO2 that human activities add to the atmosphere. Worldwide, millions of hectares (ha) of forests and other types of vegetation burn every year. Fire dynamics are shaped by a complex set of factors, including human activity and climate. While a warming and drying climate increases the risk of fires, fires, by releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, contribute in turn to global warming. Forest fires that are not balanced by vegetation regrowth, i.e. fires used in the deforestation process, and fires burning on carbon-rich peatlands are of particular concern. Fires also emit air pollutants, including particulate matter, with adverse impacts on human health. Beyond emissions of particles and gases, forest fires can also affect biodiversity and ecosystem conditions, and damage soils. The European Union (EU) has committed to protecting the world's forests under several international agreements and initiatives, including the United Nations (UN) Convention on Biological Diversity and the Paris Agreement on climate change. At EU level, funding is available to support forest fire prevention and restorative measures, as well as research into fire risk management. The Union civil protection mechanism can be called upon for help by any country in the world when national response capacities to fight fires are overwhelmed. Under the European Green Deal, legislative and non-legislative measures are expected in the near future to strengthen forest protection within and outside the EU. The European Parliament recently asked the European Commission to propose an EU legal framework to tackle EU-driven global deforestation, based on mandatory due diligence for companies placing forest- and ecosystem-risk commodities and derived products on the EU market, with penalties in the event of non-compliance.

RESEARCH FOR PECH COMMITTEE: Impact of the use of offshore wind and other marine renewables on European fisheries

12-11-2020

The study provides an overview of general impacts of the development of offshore wind farms and other marine renewables on the European fishing sector. It further highlights pathways for possible co-existence solutions of both sectors, a description of best practice examples and lessons learnt, the identification of research gaps and last but not least the presentation of policy recommendations.

The study provides an overview of general impacts of the development of offshore wind farms and other marine renewables on the European fishing sector. It further highlights pathways for possible co-existence solutions of both sectors, a description of best practice examples and lessons learnt, the identification of research gaps and last but not least the presentation of policy recommendations.

Údar seachtarach

Vanessa STELZENMÜLLER, Antje GIMPEL, Jonas LETSCHERT, Casper KRAAN, Ralf DÖRING

Palm oil: Economic and environmental impacts

10-11-2020

Economical and versatile, palm oil has become the world's most widely used vegetable oil. Although palm oil can be produced sustainably, rising consumption increases the risk of tropical rainforests being cut down to make way for plantations. Deforestation threatens biodiversity and causes greenhouse gas emissions. In view of this, the EU has revised its biofuels policy to phase out palm oil-based biodiesel by 2030.

Economical and versatile, palm oil has become the world's most widely used vegetable oil. Although palm oil can be produced sustainably, rising consumption increases the risk of tropical rainforests being cut down to make way for plantations. Deforestation threatens biodiversity and causes greenhouse gas emissions. In view of this, the EU has revised its biofuels policy to phase out palm oil-based biodiesel by 2030.

The environmental impacts of plastics and micro-plastics use, waste and pollution: EU and national measures

22-10-2020

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Petitions (PETI), focuses on the pervasive use of plastics and reviews the rising consensus on the potential eco-toxicological impacts of these materials, in particular of smaller plastic particles, dubbed microplastics. It discusses possible mitigation strategies aimed at curtailing the prevalence of (micro)plastics, as well as emerging alternatives ...

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Petitions (PETI), focuses on the pervasive use of plastics and reviews the rising consensus on the potential eco-toxicological impacts of these materials, in particular of smaller plastic particles, dubbed microplastics. It discusses possible mitigation strategies aimed at curtailing the prevalence of (micro)plastics, as well as emerging alternatives and their environmental adequacy. Propelled by increasing awareness of the impacts of plastics and by public opinion, in recent years a multitude of norms, regulations, laws and recommendations have been proposed and/or implemented. These vary greatly across local, national, regional and international levels, and it is not clear what the beneficial impacts of these tools are. This study assesses these existing instruments, analyses whether they are based on sound scientific data, and discusses foreseeable challenges that could restrain the relevance and suitability of existing and future legislative proposals.

Údar seachtarach

João PINTO DA COSTA (lead author), Teresa ROCHA-SANTOS, Armando C. DUARTE, Department of Chemistry and CESAM, University of Aveiro, Portugal

Sustainable consumption: Helping consumers make eco-friendly choices

21-10-2020

Household consumption in the EU has major environmental impacts, which in a number of cases exceed planetary boundaries. Two thirds of consumers in the EU realise that their consumption habits have negative effects on the environment, and the solution that they mention most often is to change consumption habits and production patterns. However, a number of studies have shown a gap between consumers' good intentions and their actual behaviour. This happens because sustainability is not the only thing ...

Household consumption in the EU has major environmental impacts, which in a number of cases exceed planetary boundaries. Two thirds of consumers in the EU realise that their consumption habits have negative effects on the environment, and the solution that they mention most often is to change consumption habits and production patterns. However, a number of studies have shown a gap between consumers' good intentions and their actual behaviour. This happens because sustainability is not the only thing consumers consider when choosing what to buy; they are also influenced by price, availability and convenience, habits, values, social norms and peer pressure, emotional appeal, and the feeling of making a difference. Consumers also use their consumption patterns to communicate who they are to themselves and to others. Studies on the impacts of consumption show that these are influenced mainly by people's income. The European Union has a number of policies that are relevant for consumers' sustainable choices. These include environmental product requirements, information and labelling requirements, rules on product guarantees, climate legislation that attempts to build the price of CO2 emissions into production expenses, and waste legislation that makes it easier to recycle. The European Commission now plans to add a legislative initiative to empower consumers for the green transition. The European Parliament has long been a supporter of making consumption in the EU more sustainable, and has recently called for measures to ensure that consumers are provided with transparent, comparable and harmonised product information, especially when it comes to the durability and reparability of products and their environmental footprint.

Imeachtaí atá ar na bacáin

15-06-2021
Public Hearing on "Various aspects of women in poverty following the COVID impact"
Éisteacht -
FEMM
15-06-2021
Pilot Projects and Preparatory Actions: Some Examples of Success
Ceardlann -
BUDG
15-06-2021
Diverse, local, indigenous: Pathways for food security and conservation
Imeacht eile -
DEVE

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