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Sustainable tool

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An EU-funded project has come up with what it says is ‘a tool to support cities and regions to adopt sustainable management’. The toll is the result of the three-year Managing Urban Europe-25 project that forms part of the EC’s thematic strategy on the urban environment initiated in 2006.

Aviation unethical?

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The British financial company Standard Life says its ethical investment funds will no longer invest in airline stocks because its investors do not want it. Standard Life said its latest survey of those who want their money invested ethically showed 30% of respondents saying they would prefer a complete exclusion of airline stocks from the funds.

Bad air quality

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Air quality is getting worse in the EU, according to a report into concentrations of particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and ozone, and local traffic is largely to blame. The report by the European Topic Centre on Air and Climate Change said legal limits were exceeded in a ‘considerably higher’ number of measured zones in 2005 than in 2001. PM was exceeded in 44% of the zones examined.

Poland assurance

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The European Court of Justice has confirmed that Poland has agreed not to do any more work on the controversial Augustow by-pass through the Rospuda wetlands until the current legal dispute with the Commission is settled. The Polish government has agreed to look at alternative routes for the by-pass, which was one of the main objections of protesters.

Charge for health

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The London city congestion charge celebrated its fifth birthday last month with the news that it had made a minor contribution to improving human health. Scientists at two London institutes calculate that since February 2003 1888 extra years of life have been saved among the seven million population of London. Inside the charge zone, an extra 183 years of life have been saved for every 100 000 residents.

Marco Polo funding

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The Commission has announced another round of funding under the ‘Marco Polo II’ programme for companies trying to reduce road congestion and environmental impact. Companies applying for funding must calculate the total environmental benefits of their project in volume of freight shifted from road, tonnes of CO2 savings, and other factors. T&E policy officer Nina Renshaw said: ‘The Marco Polo programme is a good example of how the EU could spend its money wisely, but €59 million for a full year is a fraction of the vastly higher sums available from the structural and TENs funds where the environmental criteria aren’t so demanding.’

Low energy economy

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A report from the business sector says energy efficiency is the ‘key to economic growth’. The report from the Allianz financial services company and the Lisbon Council policy think-tank says the view that higher energy efficiency levels hinder EU competitiveness is wrong, and presents evidence of a positive link between energy efficiency and productivity levels. The authors call for internalising the external costs of pollution, adding: ‘Far from hurting the economy, higher environmental standards will create new markets.’

EU biofuels target is hindering real progress on fuel quality

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Editorial by Jos Dings
T&E Director

It may not seem like it to people outside the Brussels ‘microcosmos’, but the debate on the future of EU biofuels policy is reaching fever pitch. What makes the debate difficult to understand is its complexity – both technical and political – and the fact that the battleground is a split site.

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