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Where are we going wrong?

The most recent European elections saw a considerable number of green MEPs win seats in the European Parliament. Along with the regular demonstrations by citizens of all ages inspired by the young people of FridaysForFuture, the call for a Europe that pays attention to environmental concerns became a European political priority. The response was the launch of the Green Deal for Europe.

Since then we have witnessed a succession of European initiatives, presented with sonorous words and liberal use of the term “sustainable”, but which empty the true essential aims of change of meaning. 

We have stressed many times in this Newsletter how distant this is from the urgent needs of the environment. We are obliged to return to this theme in relation to the Climate law formally approved by the European Parliament on 24 June. A single figure tells us everything: the climate law will be the European driving force for climate neutrality by mid-century and will set in stone the EU’s target to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The initial proposal was for 70%, a target that has already been negotiated downwards…

We have to wonder why, despite the support and concerns of the European peoples, (not to mention the environmental disasters), we continue to see continual compromises that reduce the chances of real change. The usual response is: “something is better than nothing”. But here lies the real mistake: hoping that by accepting not much we can still bring about improvements. As the young people of FFF keep telling us: the house is on fire, the fire is spreading, and neither a glass nor a bucket of water will be enough to put out the flames.

Furthermore, we are governed by people who do not fully understand the meaning of the words environment, ecosystem, climate change, soil. And it’s not even their fault … how can an expert in physics and robotics, like the current Italian minister for the ‘ecological transition’ (ex ‘minister for the environment’), be expected to understand the arrangement of “vacuums” in the soil?

So perhaps we should start from this particular point: elect European groups of environmental experts with the power to preventively veto proposed legislation. The role could be given to the European Environment Agency, but unfortunately that body lacks the necessary authority because its members are not elected.

This team of elected environmental experts would have just two tasks:

  1. assess the compatibility of proposed laws, regulations and infrastructure projects with environmental limits, at the request of committees, associations or groups of citizens;
  2. publicly inform and educate politicians and officials who make incorrect or misleading statements about the environment.

What do our readers think? We would like to hear your suggestions, observations, ideas, critiques and comments.

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CO2 – Land

CO2 – Land is a German organisation, a member of the 4per1000 Initiative, which is taking concrete steps to achieve the Initiative’s aims. Remember that: “if the global content of organic carbon in the soil increased by 4 per 1000 (0.4 percent) a year, this could compensate completely for all anthropogenic carbon emissions that affect the climate“.

In the regional context in which CO2 – Land operates, this target could be reached through limited measures. The main aim of the project is to combat climate change using arable land as a significant CO2 sink. In this context, farming and civil society come together. Businesses and citizens can voluntarily join farmers by buying CO2 certificates to allow farmers to create humus in their fields, thus forming an alliance to protect the climate in a regional and transparent context.

So researchers, farmers and citizens collaborate to develop farming practices that, in a given regional context, help increase the humus content of their soils through the capture of CO2. The methods and contractual basis for the preservation of carbon in the soil are formulated, developed and tested. At the end of the project it is hoped to obtain a self-sufficient business model for the regional trading of CO2 emissions certificates. In this way farmers can be compensated directly for limiting or blocking emissions that damage the climate, to the benefit of the region that supports the initiative.

The approach described above is very interesting because it puts farmers, researchers and citizens on the same level. A way to establish rules and procedures that work for everyone and with the possibility of direct democratic control by the participants.

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UNEP – Emission Gap Report 2019

UNEP’s report on global emissions is a must-read: it provides further indisputable proof of our folly in not seeing what we are doing. The Executive Summary is available in several languages.

We draw your attention to a positive note summarized in the figure below which shows the reduction in the cost of alternative energy between 2010 and 2018. Which is proof that where there’s a will there’s a way.

UNEP 1 aprile

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Assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services for Europe and Central Asia

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is often in the news. We hear much less about the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). This too is an intergovernmental organization set up in 2012 to provide politicians all over the world with an assessment of the state of biodiversity and ecosystems based on scientific data. Its ultimate aim can be summed up in a few words: the preservation of the natural environment for future generations.

We are mentioning it here because in its plenary session in March 2018 the IPBES presented an exhaustive report on the state of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The collection and analysis of the data and the preparation of the report took 3 years and the work of hundreds of experts from 45 different countries. Subdivided into geographical regions, the report provides the most up-to-date snapshot available of the state of biodiversity and ecosystems. At the same time it sets out the measures that can be taken to avoid any further deterioration in natural conditions. Continua a leggere “Assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services for Europe and Central Asia”

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Airport in Vienna: good news!

In the past months, we have been over flowed by the ongoing debate on the building of the new stadium for the Roma football team. It seems that Italy cannot make do without using up land for merely commercial purposes. Is this the case for other nations? Perhaps not!

We have noticed how spatial development is becoming more and more attentive to soil preservation. One of the best examples is Austria that has prevented the building of the third airport runway in Vienna airport. This order followed a court decision the motivations of which were the negative impact it would have on the climate, and the destruction of agricultural land. On 9 February 2017 the Vienna Federal Administrative Court stated that ‘public interest towards protection against climate change, mainly due to CO² emissions, is greater than positive public interests to be received at the implementation of this project’. According to the experts’ report the judges had requested to consult, a 2% increase in greenhouse gas emissions is expected to take place. Moreover, judges underline the concern with losing usable agricultural area: ‘To preserve rich lands to be used to feed our future generations is a matter of urgency equally upon us’. Indeed the third runway project had been set out for 760 ha of agricultural land. Continua a leggere “Airport in Vienna: good news!”