English

Forging a climate-resilient Europe, The new EU strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change

On 24 February 2021 the European Commission published Forging a climate-resilient Europe -the new EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change

It might seem that this new strategy signifies a shift into a higher gear for implementing the Green Deal. It is not.

In his presentation and defence of the strategy, the Commission’s vice president  Timmermans declared:

 “If we step up work on adaptation today, we can make sure the EU and the planet, are much better prepared for the unavoidable changes we will face tomorrow. We need to do it immediately,” adding that the EU has to “avoid the worst and prepare for the unavoidable”.

Climate adaptation is about preparing for the inevitable impacts of climate change – more frequent storms, floods, droughts, fires and heatwaves – which will continue even if the nations of the world cut their emissions.

We can find these same eloquent words in many of the speeches given by various politicians over recent years. The end result is that the policy of small steps has not changed environmental degradation; on the contrary, it has driven it to catastrophic levels. When the house is ablaze, you need immediate and drastic action to remedy the situation.

This is why environmental organisations and civil society have criticised the strategy for not setting out clear and binding targets that can block the causes of climate change. EU bodies must stop relying on committees of “experts” who simply discuss among themselves in order to find points of compromise, always at the lowest common denominator, rather than finding a level of development that is compatible with the limits of nature and the environment.

Forum SIP

GNDE (Società Civile) : La geopolitica del Green Deal

GNDE – Società Civile  https://report.gndforeurope.com/

È molto interessante osservare come di fronte allo stesso problema, pur partendo da punti di vista differenti, si arrivi a indicare percorsi simili o convergenti. Abbiamo sempre sottolineato l’importanza del documento Green New Deal for EU (GNDE), ora ci sembra che anche l’analisi prospettata da Bruegel e l’European Council on Foreign Relationships (pubblicata il 2 febbraio scorso) converga su alcune delle raccomandazioni presenti nel GNDE.

Invitiamo a leggere tutto il documento di Bruegel, di cui menzioniamo qui alcune delle azioni raccomandate:

“4. Diventare uno standard mondiale per la transizione energetica, in particolare per l’idrogeno e i green bond. Richiedere il rispetto di rigide normative ambientali come condizione per accedere al mercato dell’UE sarà un forte incoraggiamento a diventare “verdi” per tutti i paesi.

5. Internazionalizzare il Green Deal Europeo mobilitando il bilancio dell’UE, il Fondo dell’UE per la ripresa e la resilienza e la politica di sviluppo dell’UE.

6. Promuovere coalizioni globali per la mitigazione del cambiamento climatico, ad esempio attraverso una coalizione globale per il permafrost, che finanzierebbe misure per contenere il disgelo del permafrost.

7. Promuovere una piattaforma globale sulla nuova economia dell’azione per il clima per condividere le lezioni apprese e le migliori pratiche.”

Cosa ne pensano i nostri lettori?

Leonard, M., J.Pisani-Ferry, J. Shapiro, S. Tagliapietra and G. Wolff (2021) ‘The geopolitics of the European Green Deal’, Policy Contribution 04/2021, Bruegel Policy Contribution Issue n ̊04/21 | February 2021 The geopolitics of the European Green Deal Mark Leonard, Jean Pisani-Ferry, Jeremy Shapiro, Simone Tagliapietra and Guntram Wolff

English

European climate pact

On 16 December 2020, the anniversary of the presentation of the Green Deal, the European Climate Pact was published, and almost totally ignored by the media. Being curious by nature, we asked ourselves what the difference is between Pact and Deal and came to the conclusion that they are in effect synonyms: both mean a reciprocal commitment based on a convention or an agreement between two or more people or parties.

So why a new pact now, and who is it between?

This is not a political document, but a “call to arms”.

In Europe, as elsewhere, public attention and pressure to safeguard the planet have fallen as a result of Covid-19. But it is essential to keep interest levels high. The Pact is asking for precisely this: spreading awareness and supporting action to combat climate change.

In short:

“We need to work together to tackle climate change and environmental degradation and to grasp the opportunities arising from decisive action and sustainable lifestyles.

Continua a leggere “European climate pact”
English

Roadmap for the new strategy for the soil

On 5 November 2020 the European Commission published its Roadmap for the New strategy for the soil: healthy soil for a healthy life.

This is a concise – just four pages – description of the situation and an indication of the various phases to be gone through. The public consultation took place between November and December 2020, and consultations with specific experts in the various member states, the EU’s institutions and particularly the European Environment Agency will be completed by the end of spring 2021. The work should end with the production of a text, before summer 2021.

The aim of the new European soil strategy will be the protection of European soils in the contexts that have already been set out both internationally and within the EU. This aim will be achieved by:

  • Promoting the adoption of sustainable soil management practices
  • Setting out actions to restore degraded soils and secure sufficient EU funding to this end
  • Improving the monitoring of soil quality
  • Adapting and improving the relevant EU policy  framework in  line  with the European  Green  Deal objectives on climate neutrality, zero pollution, sustainable food systems and resilient ecosystems
  • Developing knowledge and research
  • Accelerating the transition towards sustainable soil management and the necessary behavioural change
  • Steering  EU  global  action  on  soil  under  the  Rio  Conventions,  EU  external action  and  development cooperation.

English

GNE (European Commission) : Question for oral reply

MEPs have a number of different ways to advance the drawing up of policies. One of the most commonly used is a question for the Commission, since it is the European Commission that has to take the initiative in putting forward proposals for directives.

MEPs Lídia Pereira, Marek Paweł Balt, Fredrick Federley, Simona Baldassarre, Pär Holmgren, Alexandr Vondra, and Petros Kokkalis on behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) questioned the Commission the 25/11/2020 on the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change. Here are the questions:

“The Commission is due to present a new Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change in early 2021. Adaptation measures are crucial to prepare for a changing climate by building resilient societies that are able to minimise its adverse impacts. The upcoming Strategy is an opportunity for the Commission to show the EU’s leadership on adaptation, and ensure Member States are on track to meet the adaptation goal of the Paris Agreement.

In this context, we would welcome answers to the following questions:

Continua a leggere “GNE (European Commission) : Question for oral reply”
English

Suggestions for changing behaviour: Safer tap water

Few remember now that in 2012 there was a European Citizens Initiative (ECI), which collected almost 1.7 million signatures in twelve months. The ECI was entitled: Right2Water – Water and sanitation are a human right! Water is a public good, not a commodity!

Time has passed and that ECI has produced a new European Directive: The quality of water intended for human consumption. Composed of 140 pages, the directive goes into the details of the distribution of water right up to when it comes out of the tap at home. Formally approved and published on 16/12/2020, it will enter into force in mid-January 2021, from which date the three-year period will start for its transposition into the laws of each EU Member State.

This new directive proposes a reduction in the consumption of bottled water, which could save households over 600 million euros a year. Furthermore, to enable and encourage people to drink tap water rather than bottled water, the quality of tap water will be improved by imposing stricter limits for certain pollutants, including lead.

The use of tap water, made safer and cheaper at home, will allow better protection of the environment, especially in reducing the use of plastic. Thus, Member States will ensure that measures taken to implement the new standards are based on the precautionary principle and under no circumstances lead to the deterioration of the present quality of drinking water. To this end, Member States shall ensure the free provision of water in public buildings and should encourage restaurants, canteens, and catering services to give customers water for free or for a low service fee. Member States should also take measures to improve access to water for vulnerable groups, such as refugees, nomadic communities, homeless people, and minority cultures.

English

Common Agricultural Policy

The EU has often been criticised for slow decisionmaking. Seen from outside it seems incomprehensible. Seen from within, however, it looks like fights between members of the same family. We are paying the price for the mistake that was made in not organising the Union with decision-making rules that were capable of advancing as new member states joined.

This premise enables us to understand what is happening with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). On one side of the “family quarrel” stand the young people who have been protesting in recent years, environmental associations, new MEPs and even the Environment Commissioner. On the other, the farming lobbies, the industrial food producers and the Agriculture Commissioner. We wrote about this in a previous newsletter.

The result of this clash is not painless. We can see this in the reaction of the environmentalist world which, when the Green Deal for Europe was approved, had imagined an immediate change in EU policies, including the CAP. Disappointment came on 23 October when the European Parliament approved the new CAP which, if applied, will make it impossible to respect the Paris accords and avoid climate collapse.

This means the continuation of a scheme that leads to the degradation of the environment and human health. Additional evidence for this is the EC’s authorization for the next ten years of the import of Bayer’s XtendFlex genetically modified soya. This soya has been developed to resist three major herbicides: dicamba, glufosinate-ammonium and glyphosate. In Europe production of this soya is banned, but it is allowed in Brazil, Argentina and Canada, which are growing it to supply the European market. In other words, others are allowed to use pesticides which have a negative impact on the environment and on biodiversity, provided it happens outside our borders.

Returning to the CAP, the agriculture ministers of the EU State Members, including the Italian minister, are “satisfied”, at least according to the assessment the minister presented to the Italian Parliament’s agriculture committee which stressed the creation of naturally flexible eco-schemes (!), excluding rice (!). This continues the old approach of protecting the economic interests of some while damaging health and the environment. Exactly the same as what is happening throughout the EU with Covid-19.

Continua a leggere “Common Agricultural Policy”
English

Let’s end drug companies’ intellectual property rights!

In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis we await the announcement that will bring freedom: there’s a vaccine! We are not interested here in who will discover it and how. Rather we recall the golden rule: research funding comes above all from public money, including that given to research centres and private labs. Does this mean that we will have vaccines that are free for everyone, all over the world?

Is this just a pious hope?

A famous piece of research by public scientists in Liverpool calculated the cost of treatment for hepatitis C at around €300 a year. The selling price of the drug was €41,000 a year, or more than 400 times more expensive!

The multinational drug companies’ lobby is one of the most powerful in the world. It was only thanks to the determination, strength of will and moral uprightness of Nelson Mandela that South Africa succeeded in replicating AIDS medication, in the face of opposition from the drug companies. Let’s remind ourselves that these companies receive public funding for their research. The same is true for the funds of the EU’s Research Programmes which impose no limits on the creation of  intellectual property.

So let’s start with Covid-19: the vaccines and  medicines created thanks to public funding should be without private intellectual property rights, and the costs of production and distribution covered directly by public health bodies.

Wishful thinking? One country in the world has been doing this for 50 years: Cuba. And it is interesting to compare the WHO data on the health situation in that country with those of other more developed ones.