Ympäristö - Related Opinions
In the past few years, civil society has been increasingly concerned about the environmental and social impact of food production and consumption. At the request of the Dutch EU Presidency, the EESC is preparing an exploratory opinion on how to achieve sustainable food systems in a resource-constrained world. The opinion takes a holistic and comprehensive approach, looking at the interdependence of food production and consumption as well as fostering inter-sectoral cooperation.
The EESC welcomes the adoption of the Paris Agreement by the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and of the intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) of the EU and its Member States, committing to a reduction in domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of at least 40% by 2030 and by 80 to 95% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.
The objective of reducing transport-related GHG emissions by 60% can therefore still be considered to be relevant and in line with the EU's general objective under COP 21, provided the associated actions and initiatives are implemented urgently, with the necessary determination and as soon as possible.
The European Economic and Social Committee has been supporting the idea of a European Energy Union from its first inception as a European Energy Community in 2010. The annual State of the Energy Union report is also broadly welcomed by the EESC as a means to keep energy at the top of the political agenda across the European Union and ensure coordinated progress across sectors and Member states. The 2015 version of the State of the Energy Union is a snapshot taken only nine months after the launch of the Energy Union programme, limiting the reports' usefulness to judge progress made towards the Energy Union. However, as is noted in the opinion, the report's publication provides the EESC a welcome opportunity to identify particular aspects in advancing and governing the Energy Union that are of particular importance to Europe's civil society.
The EESC fully backs the objective of switching to a greener, resource-efficient and circular economy. It is happy to see that the Commission has come forward with a broader set of proposals covering all the stages of the product lifecycle compared to the previous circular economy package; however, it raises concern over the lower level of ambition, which is likely to lead to lower economic and environmental benefits.
The EESC reiterates its firm commitment to an Energy Union and a European energy dialogue. It supports optimal implementation of the SET Plan, which can be achieved through a joint, consistent approach involving the cooperation of energy policy stakeholders, cooperation between States, an efficient internal energy market and the consolidation and better coordination of energy research and innovation programmes. The added value of the SET Plan will derive from better coordination and a new system of governance for the European energy system. The most important task is the technical and scientific development of technologies and innovation, and the promotion of factors that encourage new ideas and concepts.
The EESC supports the adoption of a legally binding agreement in Paris and strongly supports the EU's negotiating position. The Committee believes that the EU can play a leading role by demonstrating that climate policy and positive economic development go hand in hand.
A key point from the EESC’s perspective is the role of civil society in this process. A broad-based global civil society movement has emerged that is now calling for rigorous climate protection efforts. Agreements must meet with broad public approval and support from businesses, trade unions and other groups of civil society.