Pope Francis has made a powerful contribution to the build-up to December’s crucial climate change conference in Paris, by publishing a papal encyclical calling for people to change their lifestyles in an effort to combat global warming. It comes at the same time as a finding from health experts that climate change is such a threat to human health that tackling it would be a ‘no regret’ option.
Air pollution is costing more than $160 billion (€143 billion) a year in lost productivity, according to new data released by the World Bank. The data also show that air pollution has its greatest impact in poorer countries.
More than 100 environmental NGOs have come together to fight threats to nature and the environment posed by the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s ‘deregulation’ agenda.
The full European Parliament today agreed to cap the use of land-based biofuels in transport, with the aim of being a check on the growing consumption of biofuels that increase carbon emissions compared to conventional diesel and petrol. Today’s vote marks the endgame for the EU’s public policy support for biofuels, after more than a decade.
Further decarbonisation of transport through a shift to alternative fuels and electro-mobility forms a major part of the European Commission’s strategy for an ‘energy union’, unveiled last week. With transport being responsible for more than 30% of EU energy consumption and a quarter of emissions, the Commission said legislation on ‘decarbonising the transport sector, including an action plan on alternative fuels’ would be put forward in 2017.
The Commission has said a number of EU member states could be making more and better use of environmental taxation.
Members of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee voted today to limit at 6% the use of land-based biofuels that can count toward the 10% renewable energy target in transport by 2020. They also approved accounting of indirect emissions (known as ILUC)  from biofuels under the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) with a review clause to put them in all pieces of legislation after 2020 . This vote will put the brakes on the growing consumption of biofuels that increase greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional diesel and petrol.
After a decade of promoting biofuels, Europe is in the midst of reforming its policy. Below you can download three different graphs (in pdf): the political positions of the three European institutions in early 2015; what they mean in terms of emissions and a detailed timeline of events since the first policy was introduced in 2003.
New research from the OECD suggests stricter environmental policies do not hold back economic growth, and that governments and companies are often wrong to claim that measures to tackle environmental threats will damage economic competitiveness through imposing a burden of ‘green tape’.
The right of individuals and NGOs to challenge environmental decisions has been thrown into doubt by a controversial ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).