Air pollution is now so bad in many of Europe’s most popular cities that holidaymakers on city breaks may be smoking the equivalent of up to four cigarettes in a four-day trip. Figures from T&E show that taking a holiday in a polluted city could be harmful to human health, when holidays are supposed to be refreshing breaks that enhance health.
The citizens-led campaign to reduce air pollution in Milan has spread to Rome, with the NGO behind the ‘NO2 – no thanks’ campaign publishing figures on dangerous air quality in the Italian capital, as well as more detailed information about Milan. The figures focus on the health impacts, but in Rome they also highlight the increased threat of erosion to some of the city’s greatest monuments, including the Colosseum.
The European Commision wants 60% of the EU’s key infrastructure fund spent on contributing to climate objectives. It has proposed that the €42 billion Connecting Europe Facility would have €30 billion to co-finance investments in transport, and that funding for electricity transmission, electricity storage, smart grids, renewable energy, rail, and clean urban transport would be considered to be 100% “climate spending”.
Europe’s chief negotiator on the UK’s exit from the EU has insisted that Britain must agree to abide by EU environmental rules if it wants access to the internal market. Speaking at a special debate organised by the Group of 10 leading Brussels-based environmental groups (G10) earlier this month, Michel Barnier said the UK must agree to a ‘non-regression clause’ being included in its post-Brexit trade agreement with the 27-member bloc.
The rapid growth of renewable energy has reached a new milestone, with renewable sources contributing more than two-thirds of new power added to the world’s electricity supply in 2016. The figures come from the International Energy Agency, whose director described them as ‘the birth of a new era in solar photovoltaics’.
An enforceable set of sustainable development requirements should be written into all free trade agreements that the EU concludes. That is the recommendation from a paper by T&E which draws on research conducted two years ago when discussions on the ‘TTIP’ EU-US trade deal were at their height.
The bodies that enforce the Aarhus Convention, which guarantees public access to information and justice in environmental matters, have ruled that the EU is not compliant with the convention and is showing a lack of respect for the rule of law on environmental justice.
A new report on Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions says the EU must take action to get transport under control. The report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) shows average long-term emissions are going down, but road, ship and air transport are still dragging down the overall achievement, and contributed to a small rise in 2015.
The controversial EU-Canada free trade agreement (CETA) has received the backing it needs to provisionally enter into force on 1 March. Last week the European Parliament voted in favour of the deal by 408 to 254 votes – despite serious concerns that it privileges private investors and does nothing to support Europe and Canada’s climate commitments.
A year on from the Paris climate accord, the EU is putting its attention into mechanisms to reduce Europe’s greenhouse gases. The biggest of these climate laws, the so-called Effort-Sharing Regulation, is now under attack from a group of governments led by Italy and Poland. The push to halve the EU’s 2030 climate efforts comes as a new report says transport, buildings and agriculture emissions would need to be close to zero in 2050 to keep global warming below 2°C.